Archive for July, 2014

Change of Plans

I am home again in California, sitting at my desk with little stacks of “to-do” piles all around me.  I returned from England on Saturday evening and am still catching up.  And it’s not just trivia, either.  My spirit and soul have a thing or two going on as well.

The first part of the trip with my Dad and brother was blessed with lovely weather, smooth travel and lots of amazing things to see in the cities and countryside.  I took them to several places I had already been, which was no hardship for me.  One of those was the Jewel House in the Tower of London.  Something deep within stirs me to tears every time I go there.  I am reminded of the kingship of our Lord, and one of my favorite pieces of symbolism in the British regalia is the orb with the cross on top.

On the first full day we were there, we went hunting for the place where the Caldecourt family bakery once stood.  According to the instructions given by some family members who still live in England, we found it.  Unfortunately, it’s a bit less inviting than it was all those years ago … it happens to be a corner slab of a parking lot in Tottenham.  But it is still a piece of our past, and we stood on the same ground as our ancestors.  That is pretty cool!

We took in a lot while we were there.  We enjoyed the London scene and all the history and amazing architecture, but I think there was a collective sigh of relief when we got to the Cornish countryside and could hike a trail without stepping on three people in front of us.  We all fell in love with pasties.  Oh my.  Talk about addicting.  Every day we looked for a pasty shop.  My mouth is watering just talking about it.  I wonder if any of those sturdy Cornish miners ever made it to California to leave their savory recipes behind?

On the Sunday before the guys left, we visited Salisbury Cathedral and caught the second half of the service.  That was a special treat and my Dad shared with me later how much it moved him to sing the songs they had chosen.

Then God gave me a precious gift.  On the way home, my Dad wrote me a long e-mail sharing how much he had enjoyed the trip and how it had impacted him and some things he could see God had been doing. Yay, God!  It had been my hope that there would be more takeaway value than just sightseeing, as enjoyable as that is.

My original plan for the second half of the trip was to work on the book.  I had rented a car and was going to try to get it and me up to the Midlands in one piece to have four full days to scribble to my heart’s content.  Sherwood Forest was calling me.

Well …

Do you remember a certain newsletter I sent out just before leaving where I said there might be a bait and switch?

Right.  Sometimes it pays to listen to one’s own self.

The entire trip had been somewhat strange in terms of my emotions.  It was not what I expected.  On my drive up to the Midlands, I tried to sort out what was going on.  Just before I left God had showed me something pretty significant related to my design, so I knew that was in the background.  Plus I had all the week before to ponder.  So, there was a lot swirling around.  On Monday afternoon and evening I tried to get myself sorted out and transition to the new focus of writing.

On Tuesday I tried to write.  Most of the day.  I went to the forest.  I walked and listened for THE spot for writing.  I found something passable.  I scribbled.  I paced and talked out loud and tried to organize my thoughts.  I ate some chocolate.

It just wasn’t happening.  Sherwood Forest or no.

It had been a long time since I was that restless.  I just couldn’t sit still, couldn’t focus on writing, and frankly, didn’t want to.  That was a big surprise, since I was so excited about writing in England.  There were things churning and finally, by the end of the day Tuesday, I realized, well … change of plans.

On Wednesday I went for a drive.  I felt there was a particular place I needed to go and make some proclamations about the way God made me and how it is good and right.  That brought some measure of peace.  But the restlessness was still there.  I just wanted to move or drive or go.  I almost did leave to wander around the country for two days until it was time to come home.  But then I realized that I would be running away.  I needed to sit down and sort it out.

So, Thursday morning I did.  And God showed me a couple of foundational, and relatively painful realities about what I had blocked for most of my life.  He showed me how a major emotional pursuit was trying to fill a spot that it couldn’t possibly fill.  He revealed an area that I needed to accept would never change, and it wasn’t supposed to.  A deep truth I had to wrap my emotions around was that I couldn’t heal away something that wasn’t broken.  To accept God’s view was pretty jolting because of the lies I had believed.  It seems sometimes that it is in the blood-letting that we also find some of the greatest life and freedom.

Thursday and Friday were days to ponder and process.  I went to the forest every day and grew to love it more each time I went.  It was different from my experience with the Sequoias.  I was immediately awed by them.  In Sherwood, the growth was gentle and soothing.  I could go there when I was restless and distracted.  I could go when I needed to sort this all out.  And I could be there when I felt the stir of life in the gnarly old oaks and stands of poplars; savoring the imagination that expected them to come alive at any moment.  It was with great joy that I blessed that land on the last day I was there.

So, as far as the writing goes I have about three and a half pages of mediocre notes.  Not much to show for a week’s time.  But as far as my life goes, a core area of reconciliation that has implications for everything.  And an unshakable conviction that the book will be the better for it.

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