Monday, July 26, 2010

Come Ye Back to RKD

I've returned from that little slice of heaven on earth where we vacation every year and the feel of it is still lingering in the atmosphere. I remember the first time I read that Arcadia means "paradise" and I thought, how fitting.

I can still close my eyes in the quiet and hear the waves. We were so fortunate this year to get the best room in the camp's Inn. It's the largest room they have with a private bath and it's a corner unit facing the lake so we had views of Lake Michigan from both windows. In fact, our bed was directly underneath one of the windows so I didn't even have to lift my head in the morning - I just opened my eyes and the first scene to greet me was the sun shining on the water. It's easier to remember scripture like "this is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it" when He wakes you up that way.

The weather for the most part was glorious - a little humid some days - okay a lot humid, but never without a nice breeze and the water temperature was in the mid-high
70's all week (practically unheard of for Lake Michigan) so you could always go for a swim to cool off - which I often did. A recent dredging of a nearby channel produced a vast sandbar and the best beach in front of the camp in my memory (which spans 30 years). Not only can I still hear the waves when I close my eyes, but I can picture the people playing in the water, darkened figures beneath the bright sun and almost feel the sand between my toes and the warmth of the rays on my skin. Did I mention I spent four hours a day, three days in a row on the beach? It helped me imbed the image.

It takes me about 15 minutes upon arriving to relax in Arcadia. It's the easiest place in the world to leave your worries behind. The pace can only be described as unplugged.

The kids reconnected with some old friends and made some new ones too. They are at the age where they have free reign of the place and only need to show up for meals on time to keep the privelege.

We really enjoyed spending time with some old friends too and laughed a lot together. I can't express how much it means to be able to return to this special place and pick up where we left off whether it's been six months, a year or ten years since we've seen them. I don't know anywhere else that happens, but again I suspect it's a glimpse of heaven.

Every time I'm in Arcadia I get the sense anything is possible - creativity abounds there both in the people and the place which is filled with music and prayer and encouragement. I always leave more focused on writing, more open to any changes God might have in store, more willing to take a risk on something meaningful.

I'm feeling really grateful for the retreat and looking to maximize the effect as long as I can before the "plugged in pace" pushes the sounds and sights too far into my memory banks.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Consolation Prize

After a rare quiet evening at home the kids asked about 8:30 pm if we could go to the library and check out some books, games and videos. Since it's summer and the library is open until 10 I said okay. I'm so glad I did, because on the way there I was skimming through radio stations and came across a live version of Sunday Bloody Sunday on the Drive (97.1 Classic Rock for you non-Chicagoans). As we neared the library another live song came on, and another one after that. I didn't want to get out of the car.

I did force myself to enter the library and was overjoyed when I got back in the car 20 minutes later and they were still playing live U2. Now, for those of you who know me, you know I'm an uberfan. So it should come as no surprised that I recognized many of the variations of the songs as being from different live concerts, not just one recording of the same concert. I knew this because I've been attending U2 shows for over 20 years. And tonight would have been my two dozenth show if Bono hadn't had to cancel for emergency back surgery last month.

So how great of "the Drive" to play two uninterrupted hours of U2 concert clips for those of us who had planned to be at Soldier Field tonight jumping up and down at the 360 tour. They finished the set with the most common encore the band plays..."40" - the tune that will sing me to sleep tonight.

"I waited patiently for the Lord, He inclined and heard my cry, He lift me up out of the pit, out of the miry clay. I will sing, sing a new song. He sets my feet upon a rock and makes my footsteps firm. Many will see, many will see and fear. I will sing, sing a new song."

Not a bad consolation prize.

Monday, July 5, 2010

What Happened to June?

Well...let's face it, I'm a terrible blogger. I hardly ever write. I skipped the entire month of June, and I only posted something at the end of May because I felt badly about not writing anything that month either. Summer has not yet been that wonderful, lazy, lull of non-activity and so while we've been having fun, there's been no time or energy to write about it when the day is done.

I picked up a book the other day with a gift card to Barnes & Noble (seriously great gift) by one of my favorite authors of all time - Maeve Binchy. Only it's not her latest fiction release. It's a book about writing. She taught a class of would-be writers in Dublin a couple of years back and this book captures some of her instruction and several letters written to the students over the course of the class.

One of her first suggestions is to make a decision whether you want to tell everyone you are planning on actually writing a book or no one. She gives a great analogy with Weight Watchers - telling everyone you're on a diet or no one - if you tell everyone you have the accountability factor, people will be looking for your progress. If you tell no one people will be surprised and impressed if you lose weight. Of course, that's assuming you actually do lose weight.

So I'm going to write a book. And I've decided to tell everyone.

Or at least the half dozen or so family and friends who are kind enough to check this blog from time to time.

I'm not sure what kind of book I'm going to write and I'm pretty confident it will take a lot longer to accomplish than the 20 pounds I'd like to lose while I'm at it. But I'm inviting accountability - which is the only way you really get any. So feel free to ask me how the book is coming from time to time.

Maeve gives a lot of practical advice for getting started including a recommendation that aspiring writers spend a minimum of 5 hours a week actually writing. Another suggestion is to produce 10 pages a week. Instead of waiting to write these pages until I have a topic or theme I'm going to just write whatever comes to mind to get back into the habit of writing first.

I have another great new gift my niece made for me, a journal with scripture quotes and beautiful designed paper sewn together. It's the kind of present that inspires creativity. Some of my musings are bound to end up in there. Some will be on this blog. But the plan is to start and finish a book and I don't know if any of that material will end up anywhere someone else could read it in advance. It probably will. I'm terribly open with my own stuff. I can keep your secrets, but it's difficult to harbor my own.

I'm not even sure if it's going to be fiction or not. So for those that pray, please say one for me. Because this isn't about a mid-life crisis so much as my feeling like I don't want to waste any gifts God's given me. My only hope is that it brings Him glory and makes me more like Him in the process. I know. It's a big "only hope."