IMG_5189My 7 dinner companions this evening ranged in age from 20 to 60 and traveled from as far away as Maine, California, Texas and Iowa to gather at the Lucky Monk restaurant in South Barrington, Illinois.  Finding our way to Storyline and then finding our way to each other in this group of 1700 people felt a little like a miracle.  If you believe, like I do, that miracles are the times that God reaches into our lives and orchestrates something too beautiful to understand with our little minds, then that is exactly what happened.  A miracle.

If that is our definition, then the whole day was a miracle.  Something too beautiful to fully understand, at least not yet.  A little foretaste of heaven, an experience of the Kingdom for sure.  Remember, Jesus says the Kingdom is now.  I believed Him today.

Today was worship, art, therapy, inspiration and a giant party all rolled into one.  I laughed continually and cried repeatedly- the good kind of crying that means, at least for me, that my heart is wide open and the Holy Spirit is a tangible, living, breathing presence that I can almost see and taste.  I remembered today that sometimes having my heart wide open is a little bit painful.  I was also reminded that it is when my heart is wide open, and maybe even a little broken, the light gets in.

As I consider what to share with you, I realize that it is almost too precious to describe.  Every speaker feels like a dear friend now because they each shared with such vulnerability, authenticity and generosity.  Generosity is the word that seems the closest: they offered up their failures and triumphs, their biggest dreams and their greatest fears, like a costly gift they were giving to a beloved friend.  Because they offered these gifts to us, we in turn were invited to share those same gifts with each other.  And we did.

I suspect that in the weeks to come I will read back over my notes and unpack my treasures here.  I think I’m sort of in the pondering them in my heart stage right now.  However, the treasure for which I am most grateful in this moment is the new friends with whom I just spent several hours processing the day.  It is a reminder to me, once again, that we are all connected.  We belong to each other and we can’t forget it for one single minute.  I mean it, my friends….not one single minute.  When we make a decision to get real with each other,  the REALLY no bullshit kind of real, beautiful things happen.  8 strangers who didn’t know each other 36 hours ago (or in a couple of cases 6 hours ago) laughed a lot, prayed a little and shed a couple more grateful tears as we talked about big, important, scary things like what we dreamed our life might be like going forward.  And what it meant for us to be living right on the edge of YIKES!

I suspect, I pray, that there is no going back…

Live in grace, walk in love!