Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Visit in the Northwoods

I am posting this from the Student Union at UW-Superior, found in the Wisconsin Northwoods, about as far north and west as you can get and still be in Wisconsin.  A drive across the bridge and you are in Duluth Minnesota.  There was a dusting of snow here this morning...Northwoods!

I am here on a visit to Acacia and family.  I also went to Solon Sorings to visit my first cousin, Pauline and her Northwoods writing group.  What a stimulating and delightful group of people.  Some of them are published authors, while others are predominantly writing for their families; however all of them realize they have a story to tell.  Therefore, I felt very at home with this gathering of Pauline's cohorts.

The process for the group was that each one had 8 minutes to update the group on what was happening in their lives and then share whatever they chose from something they had written.  Let me say it again...They each had a story to tell, both in the current update, and from their writing.

I discovered I had wandered into a congregation or sorts, a community most definitely!  Here was a safe place to share life, to receive encouragement, to be with others.

As one woman shared what had happened in a family member's life she commented, "He needs a lot of, (there was a bit of a pause in which my very churched mind filled in the word, prayer.) encouragement.  As I drove back to Superior my mind was drawn back to this snippet of conversation.
He needs a lot of,,,encouragement.

What I realized is that "he" probably needed both prayer and encouragement, and often I might do the first, but would I be as likely to do the second, or did prayer somehow get me off the hook of being the person to provide the encouragement?  I can offer up a prayer in a matter of seconds, but encouraging someone takes time, being intentional, making those connections, writing that note, stopping by to say, "Hello...(I see you in your pain.)"  Sharing a hug, or a meal, a cup of coffee and some conversation. Sounds a lot like loving our neighbor as ourselves, doesn't it?

I liked my new Northwoods friends and hope I can join them again to be inspired by their stories and their community.  I don't know how most of them would name their faith, or describe their faith journey, but I found community.  I also heard a little of their story, and where you hear a story and find community you find God.

Hebrews 10:25  Let us not neglect meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.