NYWC #5: Me Time

Six Years Ago
EJ, Ro and I are walking to the next general session when I feel my pocket buzz. I take a quick look and realize that my mom is calling me. Apparently approaching college graduation means nothing when it comes to the frequency with which my mother can call to check in on me. I tell EJ and Ro to go ahead, and I'll catch up to them in a couple of minutes. My mom sounds disturbed. She makes small talk for a little while, but then quietly and politely informs me that our dog Tucker has died. I sit on the bench stunned. This is the same Tucker that had jumped up with his front paws on my shoulders before I left! I knew he was old, but I didn't think he was that old! I certainly didn't think there was even a remote chance that he wouldn't be alive when I got home. He developed some kind of complication of something, I couldn't really hear what my mom was saying over the voices in my head. The vet had to put him down. She was with him when he died, and I think Dad was too. I was here. In Atlanta...right outside room 201...

I have slept in through the big room that starts the day. This was predictable. I didn't actually fall asleep until about midnight. I remind you of the Shane and Shane concert and the total ass kicking received from Francis Chan. Obviously I had a bunch on my mind. But rather than waste the morning, I thought I'd take some time to intentionally pray and develop my own spiritual walk. So I find my map while I'm walking to the convention center to locate the prayer chapel. Room 201.

I walk in and spend some time going through a variety of prayer stations. They had a bowl of water to dip your hand into to remember your own baptism. They had a pitcher of water with a note card reminding us from John 4 that Jesus gives us water that will lead to eternal life. I drink it quick and deeply. I have been praying ever since Chan's talk last night, like a kid who won't let up until Dad finally hears his plea: "Give me your spirit!"

I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit so I can spread it around to others. I want to know what it's like to produce fruit the way Chan was talking about. I am driven. These words just keep replaying themselves in my mind again and again and again. Give me your spirit.

And I find my way to the prayer station with candles, and I start to pray for all the people back home...

I sit on the bench outside of room 201 for at least 15 minutes. No tears will come. This is the dog who used to climb the hill in our back yard and wait for me by our clubhouse. This is the dog I used to take sledding. This is the dog who loathed our new little dog about as much as I did. Tucker and I were taking the phrase "Mans best friend" as far as it could go. And while he was suffering, I was here. While he was in pain, I was having the time of my life. While he was dying, people were investing in my life. The whole thing seemed so stupid. Why did it go down this way? Would other people understand my sadness? Would I be able to bring this up in a session? I mean he was one of my best friends to be sure, but wouldn't most other people think "He's just a dog..."
I spend the whole rest of the day wandering the convention center and the CNN food court like a zombie. I was here in my body, but my mind found itself home in Pittsburgh, with the people I love...

The prayer station was simple enough. Light a candle for the people you are praying for. I kind of got lost in my prayers and thoughts. I had just started reading Philipians, and I wanted to love my youth group as much as Paul loved that church. By the time I snapped out of it, I realized I had lit about half the candles on the table. I started praying for a couple of specific students, and just got on some kind of a roll. I wrapped up with a few other prayer stations and made my way to the door.

After lunch, our group decided we were going to spend the afternoon all over the place. Nothing that was being offered sounded all that interesting to me at the time (though I'm told now that I absolutely missed out on the open space situation), so I went for a walk. Centenial park is beautiful! Actually, this whole city is becoming one of my favorites. Then I remembered from a blog post at the begining of the trip that I would totally have gone to the aquarium if I were on vacation. So I saddled up, took a walk, and found myself hanging with the fishes...

Sometimes you just need a break.

Sometimes you just need to let the convention be, and take some time for yourself.

Sometimes the heavier things are weighing on your heart.

Sometimes when you're body's in Atlanta, your head is in Pittsburgh.

Sometimes God will speak to you when you are willing to take some time to listen.

And so it is with great joy that I announce nap time...