This morning I sit in a very small Texas town on a very short Main Street drag. Its a place that doesn't take much imagination to conjure up images of dusty cowboys dismounting horses and tying them to wooden posts, stagecoaches limping into town on pitted roads, and even corseted women on upper balconies waving to the potential "customers" below. What you have seen in any Western movie probably all happened here.
Today this street is a conglomeration of women's and childrens clothing stores, a library, a bookstore and a handful and a half of home design studios. By that I mean home furnishing stores that do double duty as interior designers offices. Oh, and a darling historic home transformed into a charming turquoise coffee shop, which is where I sit.
A one hundred (at least) year old Pecan tree shades the table at which I sit. A Texas flag pops in the morning breeze. And there are flower gardens blooming next to me whose essence is so hypnotic I am tricked into thinking I am a girl again. I want to run through a sprinkler, eat a dripping Popsicle, ride my pink Huffy bike through town showing off my flowing handlebar streamers and the tick-tack-tick of the plastic jeweled adornments on my spoked wheels.
What I want more than anything right now is my husband to share it all with. The joy of having this abundance is completed only by sharing this abundance.
I have two days left of this time alone. After that my sister will join me here and we will begin our two weeks of early morning to late night shifts in the Camp kitchen. Doug instructed me last night by phone to really soak in these last hours because time like this, extended and unspoken for time away and alone, is rare. I know that he is right, and I am enjoying the time, but what I have come to realize is I dont need this much time. What I have come to realize is that a weekly Sabbath is enough. Certainly this is lovely, but it is also excessive. What I am trying to say is that I need a day each week alone to reflect, revel, journal, read, pray, praise and ponder. But anything beyond that, I would rather share. Yes, what I have come to realize is that the joy of the abundance found in this kind of time is only completed by sharing it.
I know that for many of you reading here it is difficult to find time to even have a cup of tea alone. I remember those days. And certainly I do not mean to imply that time alone is an unneeded experience - Jesus both lived with and stepped away from, walked and stopped. What I do understand more fully now though is the Holy instinct (and thus need) to share our lives and experiences. There is no completion, no consummation of Sabbath time without reunion to the life and relationships God has provided. Retreat is only pollinated by reunion.
I am not sure I would have ever fully understood this if I had not taken this extended time away. Or if I wasnt practicing Sabbath on a weekly basis. I think I would have been prone to find myself just missing my family or restless, or even bored. Leisure. But being mostly full from 3 years of practicing weekly Sabbath and from learning (in that alone time) how to evaluate my feelings and thoughts through a biblical grid, I can see this is a biblical rhythm: we are blessed to bless. If we hoard anything it has the capacity to grow rancid - that is even true for time. The second we are overflowing, full, we are ready to pour over into others. But we do have to know first how to be Nourished in "alone time". Im not sure how one can learn that without practicing.
Also, I am not sure that I would have known how to collect these moments and store them away with the intention of sharing them when I return from retreat. But now, for these next two days, I will be in collection mode. I will memorize lessons like the shapes of leaves and the wonder of how leafiness, though outwardly beautiful, is not fruitfulness. And I will store them away for busier times when I can pull them out and share them, bringing Summer and Retreat to colder moments in others lives, and in my own.