Last autumn I went on a retreat. It was in Hawaii. It was an amazing experience, and I knew months in advance that it was something that I was supposed to do. I just knew it. (I was right, but that’s another story.)
So I cleared my work schedule, booked the flights, arranged for care for the fur folk, saved money, prepped and packed. You know, the usual stuff. It’s actually a lot of work to take time off.
On the way to the airport – at 4 in the morning – I got a flat tire. I debated. Was this a sign? Should I cancel my flight? Try to reschedule and just arrive late? I decided to fill up the tire (repeatedly) and hobble to the airport. Thank goodness for run-flat tires.
At the beginning of the retreat, the first questions were “What did you have to go through to get here? What kind of struggle did you face?” The intention was to show how we can choose to demonstrate determination. It kinda came off like a struggle-a-thon. You know, “my life is harder than yours.” Blech.
I told my story, but in the back of my head, I knew that it wasn’t finished because I still had to deal with the flat tire when I got back. Yeah, I kinda knew there’d be more…
I didn’t know that when I landed at 9 pm and called AAA, they wouldn’t show up.
I didn’t know that when I called back a few hours later, they wouldn’t have anyone available until morning.
I didn’t know that I would be spending the night in my car in an airport parking lot. I didn’t know that I’d experience low level anxiety, wondering if I was safe.
I didn’t know that my seats fully recline, nor that I could still mentally resist being miserable by keeping busy. I didn’t know that I could still pull an allnighter.
I didn’t know that when my tow truck driver showed up at 6 am, smiling and cheerful that he would love my bumper sticker that says “Eve was framed.”
I didn’t know that he would be someone who had grown up hard, in a part of Oakland that I had only ever visited to buy BBQ and sing in churches.
I didn’t know that we would have a really deep and meaningful conversation about things that were important to us, as if we had been best friends all of our life.
I didn’t know that our ideas for solving some really big problems would be so damned aligned — problems like racism, drug addiction, depression and suicide. Ideas about families and churches and open doors and mentors and diverse neighborhoods. I had no idea that we would go there.
I didn’t know how much I needed to have a heart to heart conversation with this black man from Oakland as he drove me home after a bit of a nervous night.
I didn’t know how much I needed proof that there is something out there demonstrating more determination than I ever will. “It” is determined to create opportunities for us humans to connect. There is a force out there that sets up infinite opportunities for us to look beyond our differences and see the heart inside each person. It is determined that we talk, and that we listen.
This force is determined that we have conversation. I believe this force is good. Therefore, Good is determined. Very determined.
Now I know that I (we) can still be deeply changed by conversation.
And remember: in all things – progress, not perfection!
Love and light, Maggie
p.s. start some real conversations!