03 August 2009

Love Without Expectation

By Anonymous

The Presbyterian Welcome retreat in July was an eye-opener for me. Not only am I new to Presbyterianism (yes, I bought a "handbook" at Barnes and Noble), but I am new to PW, and only about six years into a religious walk within community. That is to say, I left my church quite young (at 19) and spent as many years 1-on-1 with God, only to begin again with a church community six years ago.

For me the retreat spawned a theme of expectations. Mine were simple: I'd never been to one before, so I had no idea to what to expect. Would it be so intellectual I'd be lost? What would the worship be like? And most importantly, what if I really don't feel like doing all of the activities? I knew only one person there - what would I do if she didn't want or was too busy to spend with me? What if no one accepts me there (acceptance, as GLBT people know, is NEVER guaranteed)? And I had two very serious spiritual expectations: to have the deep conflict I was feeling about my home church resolved, and to regain a full, central focus on God. There were other expectations, too, inherent in the retreat organization: for all to agree to the retreat covenant, for all to participate, for all to be open to everything, for all to share, for all to feel welcomed, for all to belong. But I think perhaps the overall expectation might have been that it would be easy, that we'd all know how to "play."

The end result? As is always the case, when a person takes one step toward God, God comes rushing to greet that person. I never met so many gentle, truly tender, incredibly brilliant, sincerely God-loving people in one place in my life (well, aside from a church I love in Phoenix, Arizona). Each of us brought our own spiritual tide and presence as given by God, and the currents often criss-crossed and crashed about, but even as water does, all blended together. It was a pleasure to see and experience.

I am grateful for those who gathered me in and glad to be one who could gather others in, and I thank God for seeping into the otherwise sealed pockets of my fearful resistance and insecurity.

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