I've been known to agree to things that I in no way know how to do.
As a terrified university student, I was so afraid of failing my statistics course that I studied and memorized obsessively, sometimes waking at night from reviewing formulas in lucid dreams. At the end of the course, my final grade ranked second in the course, and my professor asked me to work as his assistant the following year.
I said yes. But it mostly involved running a computer lab and I had absolutely no-zero-zilch experience on a computer. As in, I didn't know how to turn it on, I didn't know what a window was, I knew absolutely nothing aside from keyboarding. Fortunately, before the fall commenced, my husband's pursuit of education led us away from Winnipeg and away from that terrifying room full of clickety clack computers that I had pretended to know how to teach. I still feel sick at the thought of it. All those students looking at me as I mumbled into my neck.... mmmmm I dunno...... sorry......
In the eighties I signed up to join Mennonite Disaster Service, an organisation dedicated to bringing aid to people affected by natural disasters. I was terrible at swinging a hammer, I couldn't measure a door or window if my life depended on it (as it often felt that it did), I sucked at laying linoleum, and I once spent four days in the rafters of a house swinging at nails in an effort to reinforce beams affected by a house fire.
Except that I rarely made contact with the nails. Any of them.
Most recently, I have agreed to present at a women's retreat. Being one to learn from my mistakes (dwell on them, obsess over them....) I fastidiously checked for evidence of hammers, nails, rafters, window wells, computer labs, and irritated students. Then I said yes. But now I'm remembering that I have no experience in this field. I've never monologued before a group of people, except that time I went on tour with my Capernwray musical ensemble, that other time I had to "give my testimony" so I could get baptized in the Mennonite church, and that one or two times I blurted out confessions in the semi-light of camptire during youth group.
Not a solid background. Not a winning portfolio.
I've been sewing bags out of this-es and thats for so long now that its like I can't remember why. I have this vague worry that I'll find myself standing in front of a group of expectant women, gripping a handful of rags, and mumbling nervously- apologetically, and saying "duh" a great deal.
I'm pretty sure I'm not good at monologue- I tend to be more of the listener than the lecturer. And that's where you come in. Time for a little roll play- You are going to a day long retreat with 29 other strong, creative, deep thinking women from many faith backgrounds and walks of life. You are looking forward to being in this rich environment and hoping to come away from it inspired to be more fully your own self. To more willingly offer your self, your gifts, your weaknesses and sensibilities to your world. To become more authentically the person you were created to be. You imagine the smell of hot coffee, fresh bread, an old farmhouse filled with character pieces and colored bits of glass, rooms warmed by wood fire, the wisdom of women, the beauty of art.
There are four presenters:
Janet Kroeker runs a wool company, making and selling comforters, pillows and mattresses. From the cuttings of her production, she gathers up the bits of wool, shapes them into balls, then felts them into designs of texture and color. In her home, which is located along the Roseau River, on her dining room table, sits a basket of these beautiful little creations.
Val Hiebert, while working on completing her doctorate, and teaching students sociology at Providence University, has been an enthusiast for this day. For us, she will weave together a presentation that shows her passion and understanding of the social constructs that influence how we view beauty.
Bonnie Loewen keeps listening for and finding ways to weave in the habits of regular life with our spiritual journey, and the habits of our spiritual journey with regular life. She does this alongside Prairie Wind Mennonite Church, a house church that gathers in the southeast area and also together with those who don’t fit inside of institutional religion through palliative care, ceremonies of passage, and retreats. This retreat will be located at her house and farmyard.
Oh yeah... and that absent minded artist who sews bags out of her impressive excess. Her too.
(why can't I get rid of this frigging indentation??? I"m feeling this unwelcome flashback to that room full of computers at the University of Winnipeg....)
I need your help to remind me how to do this? Put on your journalistic, retreat-er-ific hats and remind me what to say? How to present? What you'd like to see me demonstrate in the real world?
And maybe- why I said "yes"?
(because its going to be AWESOME! and I know that. And I'm so honored to be included, invited, trusted, welcomed. I know I'll come away richer, more inspired, more in touch with what I love about my life, my faith, and the ways in which I get to make sense of them both. I know that these women will flood my soul with light, with hope, with a desire to pursue the extraordinary in the every day, to see the miraculous in the mundane.)
A couple of days ago I bought Anne Lamott's latest book: "Help, Thanks, Wow- the Three Essential Prayers". And I've begun to practise them just a little. I'm pretty much stuck at the "Help" portion, but with a little help from my friends, I'm looking forward to a little "Thanks".
Since I've just agreed to do something that I'm not at all sure I know how to do.
And maybe, just maybe after that, I'll have the honour of a teensiest little bit of "Wow".