From the Mountains to an Island Pilgrimage

Months ago now, Gwen and I received many invitations from churches and groups up and down the east coast for the Spring 2012. We decided to do an experiment. Knowing how wearying travel can be, we thought, "Let's try to base in North Carolina--our former home, and travel up and down the east coast to all of these events rather than fly back to Colorado each time. It's really wearing to travel so much. It is so draining actually that we often say, "Is this really worth it?"  And were it not for the warm, tearful "thanks" that we receive, I really don't think we'd travel like we do at present.Last Sunday night as we awaited a plane change in O'Hare in Chicago, it dawned on me that we had been in O'Hare for the past five Sundays in a row going somewhere. Speaking somewhere. Offering our ministry somewhere. It was a depressing thought to be in an airport more on Sundays than you've been in church or enjoying time with really good, life-giving friends!So, tomorrow we start a road trip and head to a small, narrow barrier island off the coast of North Carolina. Yes, we're taking Laz, our Golden Retriever in our Prius for the 2000 mile trek. We'll be exchanging what is historically, the two most snow ladened months in Colorado for the ocean waves of a tiny island where there are no motels or hotels... only little private cottages. We've rented a little 2 bedroom place where we'll hunker down. We will not be off though. We've tried a new rhythm of engage and then disengage for the weeks we are there...something I write about in The Jesus Life.  A leader and spouse will fly to this island from Alaska for their soul care intensive with us. 10 couples from across the US will gather with us for the first "Jesus Life Retreat" in a 10 bedroom/10 bath, ocean front home we're rented for a long weekend. Then we'll head to Richmond, VA the home of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist (my roots) to start their first ever training in soul care for their missionaries.I'm afraid as I look at the schedule, there's not enough time to roam the beach, watch the turtles and dolphins and read Ann Morrow Lindberg's The Gift of the Sea, the prophetess of all sea coasts and coastal pilgrimages everywhere and for all time. How could anyone go to the shore without a copy of her book in your hands? She'll be our companion once again as we make this pilgrimage! We're sorting through our books now to tote along.Since the beginning of time, people have gone on religious pilgrimages in search of the peace such an experience offers. Tomorrow begins ours. We often tell leaders, "Those who care must be cared for!" And this trip for Gwen and me is that kind of pilgrimage. Gwen is still recovering from her extensive spinal surgery and I feel like I need to recover from a long season of writing, speaking and more.  While not quite a sabbatical, this is our experiment to try to care for our own souls. We chose another place of beauty--the coast and are exchanging the brown of Colorado's high desert for the spring of dogwoods, azaleas and redbuds. It will be beauty to pierce our soul, as Simone Weil, a French writer tells us.We look forward to altering the trajectory of our lives. Who wants to be in airports more than community? Who wants to sit for hours in waiting lobbies when their are waves to stare at and seagulls to chase? Don't we all need a time to re-think where we're headed and if we really want what's at the end of such a path or not?So we embark!  We'll be posting and Gwen promises to make her first blog entry in a long, long time on this pilgrimage.Let's go!