Learning to Lean In

I don’t know why I said I would do it.

I don’t even know why I said I would volunteer. Those words just came out in conversation one day because I really do want to expand the small space I inhabit.  I thought whatever the task might be, it would be one that would be more in line with my strengths, not my weaknesses. And when she offered that I might consider arranging rideshares for an upcoming retreat, I knew it wasn’t something I’m particularly good at doing, but I thought it would be okay.

On Monday, I received the “list” of those who had offered rides and those who needed a ride. I began contacting participants via email on Tuesday. The advice I was given was to contact first the people who have offered rides to find out where they will be and how flexible they are about meeting up with others. Then, I could contact those who needed rides. I didn’t exactly take that advice. I forged ahead and just emailed everyone the same day.

My reasons were good ones, I thought. First of all, I don’t like to email people I don’t know, so I wanted to get that initial awkwardness out of the way. I spent too much time making sure the message was not too formal or too familiar. Maybe the truth is that, in this case, I didn’t want to reveal too much of myself, for my fear to peak through, I just wanted to get the business done. In hindsight, I should have at least introduced myself.

I realized too late that some of the people I was emailing knew each other and had been in retreat together before and others were newer than I, and thought I knew something more. A few wondered if I just wanted a ride myself or had an “official” capacity that caught them unaware. A few didn’t even realize they had offered to give another participant a ride or now needed a ride themselves. Many had personal stories to share of sick friends, doctor visits, and international travel that made their journeys unique. What I thought was straightforward information, was not.

Geography was another unexpected challenge for me as a newcomer (but remember I didn’t tell anyone that simple truth). The retreat is “up island,” as they say here. There are several ferry routes that people can take from the mainland, surrounding smaller islands, and even within the island. Even for people who live on the island, I’ve quickly learned that I can’t assume the route by one’s location. On the Malahat (the portion of the TransCanada highway going up island), accidents or rockslides close the route at least once a month for hours at a time, essentially cutting off Victoria (the largest city) from the rest of the Island. There are no easy exits since the stretch of road rests perilously between higher elevations of forests and the ocean. The only option for drivers is to take a smaller ferry or a multi-hour detour. People are creative in travel, I’m learning, to avoid this highway, taking ferries in all kinds of configurations and the way there might not be the same way home.

The truth is that I’m carrying too much for this task. I’m carrying these practical concerns but I’m also holding on to fears like how I present myself to these people I don’t know. I was afraid of being too personal when actually the opposite (not introducing myself and my lack of knowledge about travel) caused more work to figure things out. I was thinking too much about the task instead of simply encountering gracious people with cars and riders with stories to tell. I’m paying more attention to the agony of my inadequacy, or at least the inability I perceive might be true.

Now, it is the next week and I’m trying to not carry too much of the burden of figuring it all out.  I’m learning to practice leaning in toward the Light, my Lenten desire. Leaning in toward the Light means that I have to let go of all the if’s, the things I don’t know yet.  I have to let go of the fact that I don’t know these people and to instead consider this task as a way to get to know someone and their generosity in sharing both a literal and spiritual journey forward. I am learning to lean into the advice and practiced wisdom from my new friend who asked me to do this. Leaning into the light means that I shake off the dust of uncomfortable-ness and self conscious-ness to see the wonder and witness of the light beyond myself.

Carry nothing but what you must

Lean in toward the Light

Let it go, shake off the dust

Lean in toward the Light

Today is now, tomorrow beckons

Lean in toward the Light

Keep practicing resurrection

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