It’s been the strangest two weeks. Although at times I like to play it by ear, I still always have a big picture plan. To find myself, very unexpectedly, with two weeks of my life free and no plan at all, although for some people sounds delightful, to me was stressful. And confusing. Not a place I am used to being. So while I thought I would be sharing lessons I learned from climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, instead I find myself reflecting on lessons learned from limbo-land.
First let me say that it was crazy disappointing to have to cancel my trip to Kilimanjaro with 3 days to spare but after twisting my ankle the week before, I just didn’t feel secure enough on it to try tackling a mountain. Too big of an experience not to postpone until I could be 100%. So yes, I will have to either stay in shape or retrain next year when I reschedule. There’s that.
But then my wonderful, adorable husband (love of my life!) scrambled at the last-minute to plan a trip for the second half of my vacation for us to go on together. He rearranged work, arranged all the details, luckily got reservations for everything we love including a Halloween Party at none other than – Disney World. Wait for it. Enter Hurricane Irma. So one week apart, we found ourselves canceling yet another trip full of fun and excitement, getting too familiar with customer service and requesting refunds. I realize that people who have had to deal with the actual damage and distress that Irma caused is worth your pity and concern, not me. But dang- what is going on here? As a friend said to us- “the travel gods are not being kind to you.”
As I noted each day that passed what my Kilimanjaro team was scheduled to be doing I counted the days until they summited. (All but one of the team made it to the top!) It took me until about day 4 to stop doing email and unfinished work I didn’t complete before vacation started. (Had I been in Africa, I couldn’t have done anything about it anyway. But knowing my computer was sitting a few feet away, it is maddening not to tend to unfinished business.) I visited my mom (who was not so secretly glad I had canceled my climb!) who is slowly recovering from her broken arm and torn rotator cuff from this summer. I went to Linville to our condo and wallowed in a little self-pity. It was hard for me to mentally shift gears from focused, limit testing adventure to- nothing.
Two things happened, though, that have made all the difference. The first was the opportunity during the first week off to spend time with some of my closest friends and women I deeply respect and love. Seven of us went to the lake for a few days of laughter, talking, eating, more talking, pontooning, and for me, healing. To be with sisters who let me be me even though I was a little off my normal happy self and encouraged me in spite of my stupid ankle, was a gift. Time spent with friends is life-giving and happens too infrequently in my busy life. I have to do something about that.
The next thing that happened was kind of random. As I was facing this second week with nowhere to go and as Greg’s work closed back in on him making him unable to get away, I was bound and determined to go somewhere. After running 2 or 3 scenarios through my head and pricing them out, my spirit was still not settled. All I could say to Greg was that I can’t stay in Winston-Salem or Linville. I needed a change of routine and perspective. That’s when, while surfing the internet for best last-minute travel destinations, I discovered The Lodge at Woodloch – in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. Never heard of it. But it looked like a place I could enjoy.
It’s like summer camp, Gold’s Gym and the Rock Barn Spa combined into one. I figured this would be a good place to do some water therapy for my ankle and take care of body
and soul for a few days. It has been a gift. I’ve tried everything from floating (sensory deprivation floating in salt water – bizarre but the best Centering Prayer I have ever done!), water aerobics (never done it but certainly easy on my ankle), to the Yoga Wall (so much better than regular yoga for me right now because the straps took some of the body weight off my ankle- and how many times do you get to hang upside down like a monkey?), walking the labyrinth daily, and of course- massage therapy. But my favorite therapy? Simply reading in the hammock. I want one someday. But the yoga wall was pretty cool, too. When you are hanging upside down in a strap attached to a wall, it reminds you that there is always another way to look at any situation. Even though it might take some effort to figure out how to change your perspective.
For me, knowing I had some emotional work to tend to, reflecting on my work at Centenary, my calling, my disappointment of hopes unmet, some personal and professional relationships that aren’t where I long for them to be, this has been critical to giving my body and mind space to step away from my life for a few days so I could tend to my spirit, and then reassess how I will reenter it in a few days.
16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. – Luke 5:16 (NIV)
Jesus took time to go and be by himself. His work and his friends and colleagues at times had to press pause. Like the sensory deprivation, when we have some difficult personal work to do, it is often times easy to distract ourselves with business or entertainment and avoid the self-reflection. But when all of the senses are finally neutralized, the focus becomes crystal clear. I know myself well enough to know, sometimes I have to withdraw to a lonely place and pray. Whether that is all the hours one spends climbing a mountain. Or at a new place designed to bring healing and reflection. Mission accomplished, finally.
So thanks for all of the kind words of encouragement. For those close to me, thanks for
your patience as I wrestled through my vacation time. For those I have not responded to, I promise I will, when I’m back on the clock. For the prayers for healing, I’m most grateful for. It will be a while before I’m running and jumping as before. But I’m learning new forms of exercise as I rehab- and learning new things is great!
May you find the time and space- whatever that might look like for YOU- to withdraw, pray, play, heal, reflect, learn something new, or just breathe. It can change your whole perspective on life. I highly recommend it. And I argue- so does Jesus.
Grace and Peace,