…Early Sunday morning, as I awoke from a short, but peaceful sleep, my thoughts immediately rested on the fact that it was the last day of Splendid. In a few short hours, we would say goodbye to one another and head back to our respective states and time zones. We would return to our virtual community, albeit with a few more real-life connections; the morning would be bittersweet.
This is the end of a chapter… I thought to myself.
“No, this is the very beginning of a chapter,” that still, small voice responded.
Then… “You signed three times this weekend—a symbol of restoration for three lost years.”
In Anna’s workshop the day before, she had talked about the parable of the good soil and used a particular gardening technique (Back to Eden gardening) as an illustration. With this technique, dead/composted materials (wood chips, grass clippings, newspaper, etc) is used to cover the garden in preparation for planting. As she explained the process, she said, “Nothing is wasted.” All the “dead” materials are used for a purpose in preparing the soil.
As the Holy Spirit dropped this revelation that the three times I’d signed were directly related to the three years that had passed since I’d buried the dream I perceived as dead, I was astounded. And completely satisfied that the weekend was closing as it was. Again, I was content with the way God had moved; I could go home at peace with this outcome. I didn’t feel like I required anything more; I had a resolution to the question of whether the passion He’d placed in me was a figment of my imagination or if He really meant to plant it in my heart. It was more than enough. I held all of this close and didn’t even speak it to Anna and Kelli.
But He wasn’t finished.
Before we left for the restaurant, I texted Kelli to see where she was. She and a few others were leaving early to catch flights home. I dreaded telling her goodbye, but knew I couldn’t let her leave without doing so. She also needed to sing to me for Xamayta, who was unable to be at Splendid. When I found her she said matter-of-factly, “We’re not saying good-bye. We’re just not. We’re saying ‘soon.’” I told her we needed to make a video for Xamayta, so she pulled April M. into our huddle and handed Megan C. her phone. They put their arms around me and began to sing…”Jesus Loves Me.”
Those few moments broke all kinds of junk off me. It was one of the sweetest moments of the weekend, and I’ll treasure it in my heart forever. I hugged Kelli, said “Soon,” and hopped in the car with Rachel and Anna to drive down to the restaurant.
All weekend, I’d felt impressed to sit down with Tracy for an eyeball-to-eyeball chat. On Friday night, I’d grabbed her and told her I wanted to talk at some point during the weekend; she said okay and told me to find her sometime Saturday. Then Saturday came and I was a hot mess who didn’t want to talk to anyone. At breakfast Sunday morning, Tracy walked by and asked when I wanted to talk. I knew she was busy preparing for our last session, and I didn’t want to intrude on her time, so I kind of shrugged it off, and said, “Just at some point before we leave, whenever you have a minute.”
When we gathered for the last session, Taylor and I found seats together. I turned my phone’s voice memo recorder on—something I wish I’d thought to do earlier in the weekend—and settled in to listen as Jana began to speak.
She began by reading Philippians 4. When she got to verse 13, she read it, and then looked around the room: “…that’s easy to say—don’t you think? I mean, where’s Ticcoa? Just getting here…right? Look how much better it was?”
After reading the scripture she gave us three questions to reflect on as we left our time together and return to our respective homes.
What is God asking you to do?
“What is God asking you to do? Because He’s told you—this weekend—that you have something to do. And you may not have a position in a church, but you have a place, and it may not be paid and it may not be on a platform, on a pedestal—but you have a place. He puts you where He needs you to be…some of us are like, ‘I can’t do this…’ or ‘I can’t do that…’”
Well, that was a no-brainer. He was asking me to pick up the dream I’d laid down.
Where is God asking you to go?
“Some of you are called to a mission field—and I don’t know where—or why—or when, but somebody—no a couple—you know you are and you’re like ‘ummm, I don’t wanna go.’”
This one was a little more abstract. It wasn’t until I had been home from Splendid for a week that I knew the answer to this one.
What is God asking you to be?
“…you have a place…we need to bring our very best, we need to bring whatever God told [us] this weekend, because we made space for it, we made time for it…”
Again, I didn’t yet have specifics in mind, but I knew I’d heard Him clearly say that it was time to reconsider pursuing employment and/or graduate school in an ASL related field.
Then Jana began to pray, and that’s when it all started to get real.
“…I ask for those of us who have a thought: ‘I could teach something…I could teach something next time…’ and we look at ourselves and go, ‘What? That just came out of my mouth?!’—that Lord, You give us the strength….”
As soon as the words “…I could teach something next time…” were out of her mouth, a clear picture popped into my mind: I was standing in a circle of women, teaching them how to engage in worship through sign language.
There was that still, quiet voice again: That’s why you need to talk to Tracy
I may have laughed under my breath, or gasped quietly. I don’t remember.
As we were all mingling, saying lingering good-byes, Tracy walked up to me and said, “Let’s trade numbers—and talk on the phone soon.”
Not wanting to press for a conversation then and there, I agreed, we took a picture and hugged. She walked away and immediately I was arguing with myself.
You need to talk to her. Now.
She’s busy—everyone wants to talk to her before she leaves.
You cannot sit on this. You need to talk to her now.
Tracy walked by me a few minutes later and I grabbed her hand.
“I just need a minute—I need you eyeball-to-eyeball.”
“Okay,” she replied.
I led her to a quiet spot in the back of the restaurant and told her what had happened during Jana’s prayer, how the picture had popped into my mind, and how I’d known then why I needed to talk to her.
“I’m not asking you to do anything with this information, necessarily; I just needed you to know,” I explained. She told me that she would think and pray about it, and that we would talk soon. By acting on the clear instruction to talk to her, a door of potential opportunity was opened.
Again, I was totally content with how the weekend had gone—overjoyed, actually. I had gotten here, God had answered some questions I’d been holding close at heart, I’d met some of the heart-sisters I’d gotten to know online over the last year, I’d conquered some major fears and anxieties, and I was thrilled.
Splendid had, indeed, been splendid and lovely.
(If you’ve made it through the entire seven-part series, bless you. Thank you for joining me on the journey.)