Jan has curly, long, grey hair that is always braided—at least when I saw her. She wears a baseball hat and is full of opinions. She reads books, and likes to get to the bottom of stuff. “I get accused of talking too much,” she said as we were finishing up the ladies’ retreat that had taken place over the weekend. “But there is something wrong with this picture. We are all facing the wrong way.” We were sitting on rows of chairs facing the front of the meeting room. “We cannot see each other this way. Let’s do like the indians,” she commanded us and got us all off our chairs and into a ring of hand-holding. “Now,” she said triumphantly, “we are facing each other. And if you keep facing each other, and I turn around, then I can see things you don’t see. And if I walk into the ring, I may look funny because I don’t know how to behave. And the worst thing we can do is to start pulling in different directions.” We laughed and nodded and agreed that it is definitely better to see each other’s faces than the back of each other’s heads.
I had a great time with about 40 women at the Lopez Island ladies’ retreat.
I enjoyed teaching about Lydia, and about having an open heart, about taking risks and about the meaning of real freedom. Many times I felt like I was speaking to myself as much as I was teaching the women. I enjoyed getting to know the women there and hearing their stories, and was amazed at the tenacity and resilience of these ladies. Many have losses, fears and burdens that I cannot relate to. Many have challenges to overcome and mountains to climb. I was inspired by their faith and by their desire to be over-comers rather than victims. I thought about the fact that there were 40 women more different than the flowers in a wildflower field. Most of them were so different from me that I probably would never have befriended them had it not been for this retreat that I went to.
But now they are my friends, they are a part of my story, they have enriched my life, and they have given me a small understanding of what heaven will be like. It’s not going to be a dress-code-kind-of-a-place with room only for the starched and ironed. It is not going to be a place with only one kind of tune, one kind of color, one kind of dessert. It is going to be unpredictable and diverse. It is not going to be boring.
Tomorrow I will be heading back to Norway, my family and crazy dog.