Please note: these are in no particular order. In fact, the ones further down the list may be closer to my heart, because they took longer to surface…
1. My retreat last month (was it only last month?). I will say it again (and again, and again, and again)—take a solitary retreat. I had six days; five would have been enough, three would have been too short. A day to settle in, a day to begin surfacing, and two or three days to just be. The best things I took away from it were that schedules are not as important as I think they are and neither are to-do lists; I can read indefinitely long if provided a comfortable place and plenty of iced tea or coffee; sometimes it’s OK to just sit and stare out the window. So I give thanks for my retreat, Jeremiah House, GilChrist Retreat Centre, and John and Debbie (the caring staff).
2. My health. Overall, it’s pretty good. Yes, I could lose some weight, and I will never have 20/20 vision, but otherwise I’m doing OK—internal parts all functioning properly. When I think of friends and family members who have chronic illnesses and physical issues, and the effect it has on their lives (and personalities), from HIV/AIDS to cancer to high blood pressure to hernias to you-name-it, I am thankful that I am healthy.
3. Friends. This was brought home to me by the recent conference I attended. Some of the friends I spent time with were people I have known for a long time—we’ve shared meals, tears, joys, frustrations, hotel rooms, classes, our homes. Some of them I had only “talked” with via email. Some I had met and shared a meeting or meal or coffee with at another conference, and we had touched each others' heart--but then we hadn’t had any contact until the next conference. But it was as if we had seen each other a month ago, not two years. And some friends I made I didn’t know were even on the planet until that weekend.
There’s an item that’s gone around the Internet, Friend for a Reason or a Season. Sometimes your friendship with someone lasts for a lifetime; sometimes it’s for a few months or a couple of years. But no matter how long it lasts, each person comes into your life for a reason, even if it’s only for a season. I think of the friend whom I met when I was just beginning to come out; he led me, encouraged me, and supported me through that process. We are no longer in regular contact now; but he will always have a place in my heart, and I, I hope, will have one in his. He was a friend for a reason, for a season. Some of these friends at conference and elsewhere in my life are like that—warm and intense as the friendship was, it will not last. Others will last—and will become even deeper and richer with time. Both kinds of friendship enrich our lives. I am thankful for all my friends.
4. My son. There are many things in my life that I would change if I could, but he is not one of them. It was an incredible experience watching him grow up—and seeing some traits stay the same over time, morphing to fit the age (from Disney videos to SimCity to PS2…). He is an amazing young man, intelligent, attractive, articulate and funny. TO is a joy to me, and the saddest thing about moving to
5. My call to ministry. It hasn’t been easy, but as a wise person once said, the best things in life rarely are. That call has led me on an amazing journey, deeper into my own heart and in a closer relationship with the One who called me. I was given every chance to refuse and turn away from the call, but somehow…well, you all know how it is. And while I have doubted myself, sometimes even doubted my call, I have never regretted responding and embarking on this wild voyage!