Hey there, friendly reader.
Thank you for taking the time to sift through my musings today. I am going to share a reflection on a class I took in Asheville, North Carolina at the beginning of this summer, a class called Bread in the Wilderness, a summer seminar on food, faith, and ecological well-being.
I won’t bother recounting the month of reading I did before the seminar or the tedious scholarly precision with which I wrote my term paper in a timely manner (how about it took literal blood, sweat, tears, sleep loss, and swears to claw that paper out of my brain), but I WILL tell you that I got to meet some of the most beautiful people in the world there on the campus of Warren Wilson College. Folks came from Wake Div seeking course credit, like me. Others—students, lawyers, conservationists, teachers, pastors, etc.—came from all over the United States for the fun and the joy of connecting with like-hearted learners. And a few showed up just because they were curious; "faith AND ecology...really?"
I have to admit, though, that the best part was getting to meet one of my theological heroes—Dr. William P. Brown, a leading Hebrew Bible scholar and master of wonder. He let us call him “Bill,” and I proceeded to geek out.
All told, my experience at Bread in the Wilderness proved wild and precious.
Here's part one of the story.
Part 1 | FULL DISCLOSURE
I did not know what to expect from my time in the Asheville wilderness, and I certainly did not know what to expect from myself while there.
Not fully recovered from a harried semester and smack in the middle of a crisis in my faith community, there was naught left in me for academics. I also did not relish the idea of attempting impressive self-introductions to some 30 people (can I GET an amen?!). The intention set for our time at Warren Wilson College continued to draw me in, however, no matter how wicked my anxiety and its encumbering web. I showed up with timid hope and a little bit of attitude (or maybe I was just hangry).
By the time my feet met the overrun garden trails by the eco-dorm, though, I was able to perceive the breathy beckoning of Holy Spirit inviting my trust and my complete presence. It was as if she whispered through the trees themselves.
As I walked to and from dinner that first night on the mountain, the hairs on the back of my neck stood straight at the glorious and terrifying reality of her nearness.
I understood that I was not alone and that I was also not important.
I had been brought into those hills. There was promise of an encounter worth the effort (worth the risk?).
Later that night, as my body acclimated to the higher climate and its breeze seeping through the screened windows, my spirit settled into the idea of just being. I decided to simply welcome each moment; I was there to just be there—to learn and see, participate and experience.
My agenda slipped and, the next day, I wound up in a tree.