Monday Morning – June 9, 2008
I landed on Friday night. But I’m still in the zone. Most of us live with the fantasy of LOST; on an island, removed from civilization as we know it, isolated with folks we hardly knew before, with an unprecedented opportunity for reflection, imagining, connecting and growing.
So I’m gradually re-acclimating to the world I left behind. Hilliary’s dropped out. Storms pound the mid-west. The pain at the pump intensifies. The Lakers take on the Celtics. Detroit wins the Stanley. The economy slows down. Barack resigns Trinity Church. And somehow all this, which can take hours of any given week, came to me in summary fashion – no talking heads. And I’m just fine with it. Our grand-daughter turned two on the day after my return; she’s transforming before my very eyes.
Out there beyond Horseshoe Bay just north of Vancouver, BC, around the back side of Bowen Island, across from the tiny waterfront village of Gibsons, a hill pokes up out of the sea. Tall pines reach skyward in a thick green forest up the slopes. A rocky coastline surrounds the base where a fifteen foot tide rises and falls almost daily for time immemorial, advancing across tide pools, then retreating back; up the steep granite faces, then down, as though the entire mass of earth and granite is afloat, bobbing like a cork. The docks must accommodate this hour by hour adjustment in sea level. A carnival of floating platforms jet out from the shoreline all the way around. Boats tie up and unload their passengers and cargo. It’s the only way to get here.
Little cabins set back in the woods on the waterfront are the ultimate book-writing hide-aways. Someday I’ll write mine while holing up in one of them. The big stone fireplace will be crackling over there in the corner while I’m tapping away at the keyboard; an occasional look out the big window through the trees to the water and over there on the other side snow capped peaks poking through lazy clouds hanging in and over the ridges in the distance. Inspiration aplenty. All I’ll need.
That’s someday. But for now, I’m gathering with a group of seasoned leaders; all of whom in one way or another have distinguished themselves from the pack. They’ve not only been told about their potential; they’ve achieved a level of leadership that takes many of them by surprise. Now the privileges of accomplishment have become the mantle of leadership – and in many ways, burdensome.
Up on the bluff, overlooking the coastal Village of Gibsons and the snowy peaks of the Pacific Coast range of the Rockies is a grassy knoll manicured with gardens and lawns and pathways around several inviting structures that resemble a Thomas Kincade setting; colorful blooms and flower boxes hanging from the porch beams and paned windows with yellow light glowing from inside and a pond out front reflecting the sky and the distant landscape. It’s a place called Barnabas, named for Paul’s New Testament companion – the one known for his capacity for simple encouragement.
This is the place where we gathered. No television. No pre-occupation with Internet connection. A quiet place; separate from, well, everything.
I’ve never experienced a week like this. We focused on self-assessment. We shared our hopes and dreams. Our challenges. Our injuries. We laughed and played a silly but addicting game called Firth. (It’s an original game – group competition around a traditional pool table – and can become an obsession. It gets physical.)
Alone on a deck for an extended period of time looking out at the big open waters, the big sky and the distant islands, I rediscovered Paul’s penetrating words in the second half of the eighth chapter of his letter to the Romans. Those words brought healing, perspective and hope.
We reaffirmed the restorative power of Sabbath.
But mostly, we experienced a series of collective breakthroughs. We are not alone. God is not silent. There is power in mutual openness. We are not condemned to live under the consequence of the misfires of the past. We are partners with God and each other in shaping the future.
And this Monday morning, picking up where I left off two weeks ago, I’m thinking about you today. You are a leader.
Find yourself a Keats Island. Get yourself alone. Then, connect up with those people who share your vision and your passion; those people who will let you hurt; the ones who build you up.
And as I did, you’ll find strength for the journey.
Copyright Kenneth E Kemp 2008