Field trip? Cancelled. Vision appointment? Cancelled. Jefferson Awards reception? Cancelled. Music festival? Cancelled.
Since the day we were directed to shelter in place for COVID-19, I’ve been writing “cancelled” over every event that was scheduled in my calendar. It’s interesting that I haven’t erased these events, but instead I’m writing over them as if I want to keep track of all that I’m missing out on. As if seeing them under that glaring C word will help me to remember to reschedule all the things I was looking forward to. Or needed to do. It’s disheartening, for sure, even though I understand the reason behind it all and want to do my part to help keep each other safe.
What have you been missing out on?
This morning, I woke up to realize it is Palm Sunday. For the last two years, I’ve attended Palm Sunday services in a beautiful auditorium built of timber and glass, surrounded by tall, majestic redwood trees. The tranquility and beauty of the quiet mountain sounds, mixed with spring blossoms and birdsong…the music of the faint breeze dancing with the leaves…it’s a special place.
This place is called Mount Hermon, and it’s in the Santa Cruz mountains. It’s where the annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference is held each year, the week before Easter. Many who attend the conference are hoping to meet with agents, editors, and publishers…my first year there, I just wanted to learn how to be a better writer…where to begin with that. I had an idea for a book, but I was just in the brainstorming stages of it. I’d never been to a writers conference before, and it was a little bit like coming home.
The people were strangers to me, but they were so nice. And real. The sessions were inspiring and informative, and the setting felt like a retreat—even when my brain was on overload that first year. My favorite memories there are of meeting people at the fire pits or the dining room tables and hearing their stories…finding out what they write about and where they are from…discovering amazing things about each person and how courageous they are. How courageous we all are, just by being human.
One afternoon that year, I remember a time when I was sitting in the handsome lounge at Mount Hermon (where they have the best lavender latte ever). The stone fireplace reigned from it’s place at the main wall, like the throne of an ancient, wise king and the rustic, brown leather chair I sat in held me close while I was deep in thought. The sun was shining golden and bright…but all of a sudden I noticed that it had begun to rain.
As it the raindrops fell, the warm amber sunlight never dimmed from the sky and clouds never seemed to appear…although they must’ve been up there somehow, hiding above the pine treetops. I’d never experienced that before, sunshine and rain playing together at the same hour and, for some reason, that was some sort of clarifying moment for me.
That scene validated my being there…that even though when I arrived I didn’t have a clue how to move forward with my writing, I had found a good place to learn how to grow in it. I needn’t feel pressured to move quickly with my writing aspirations, but ultimately the goal would be to just keep moving on with it. Sunshine and rain does that for some people, I guess.
So now, here we are on Palm Sunday 2020 and I was supposed to be at Mount Hermon. The place I now look forward to being at each year more than just about any other. I was supposed to be reaquainting with writer friends from the last two years and making new ones. I was supposed to be hearing more amazing stories. I was supposed to be getting some valuable lessons and much-needed inspiration. I was supposed to be entering the auditorium in silence this morning and taking communion with a body of writers whose ultimate goal is to write for God and with God.
But instead, I found myself watching my local church services aired on YouTube while sitting on my couch dressed in my yoga pants. It was a good service, though, and there was a great take away.
Our pastor, Isaac Serrano, reminded us (while being careful not to downplay the seriousness of peoples’ health and finances) how important it is, especially in these turbulent times, to focus on God’s goodness. Things may seem dire here, but our biggest issue as humans is not our health and finances and boredom. Our biggest issue has always been sin.
Historically, this Friday marks the day that Jesus was crucified. The day that He died for us so that if we believe in Him we will go to heaven when we leave this earth. “That’s bigger than finances or health,” our pastor reminded us. We have legitimate concerns when it comes to people being sick and dying and losing their jobs, absolutely…but as believers we can rejoice in knowing that heaven awaits us someday.
So while I’m missing out on a lot of things these days— and today am especially missing the joy of Mount Hermon—I am sincerely glad in knowing that I won’t be missing out on eventually meeting God in heaven. That is greater than anything else on my calendar.
Before I sign off, I learned a new song this morning that I’d like to share with you. It’s called “Rejoice”. I know in times like these that may sound odd…but it seems fitting after shifting my perspective today.
Whatever you are missing out on today, I hope you are able to hold on and hang in there. We will get through this. 🙂