Word of the Week

What If?

What if I was using my best God-given gifts, then what would my life look like? Would anything change? What would I do more of and what would I do less?

I've been asking myself lots of questions like this lately mostly because I've had more time than usual to think. After an exhausting Holy Week, much like every other pastor, I decided to do something crazy this year: take the whole week after Easter off. And, I just didn't take the week off to sit at home or catch up on around town errands, but I traveled to a beautiful place, somewhere very different from anything that is normal about my life in DC, namely Sedona, Arizona.

Set in the Red Rock Canyons of the desert southwest, Sedona situates itself not only as a warm community for flocks of northern retirees, but as a spiritual center of mediation, healing and illumination for those in search. You can have your aura read, you can go on a hike in search of a vortex, and can find counselors everywhere.

With all things spiritual being my vocation, you know, of course I was excited about spending some more time in this place where things of the divine are not far from the intentions of many. And, I wasn't disappointed. Beautiful churches of every sort filled the streets (and from the looks of the outdoor signs it appeared that people actually attended them!).  And, you couldn't drive ten feet without seeing some sign about a healing center or where to buy healing crystals. The town is a religious lovers' dream on all fronts!

Even though the whole new age scene is not something I completely understand or regularly pay attention to, it did strike my fancy to be in a lovely place of God's magnificent creation surrounded by people who are seriously searching for meaning beyond this world just as I am.

Spiriutal seekers seem to be more content than most of it, it seems. I have to say, I did not meet one unhappy person in Sedona. Not one! Everyone from the staff at the hotel, the shop owners and even the guy working the drive-through line at Burger King were among the most cheerful folks I've been around in a long time.

And for this reason among many others, there's something truly centering about being a part of this town, even if your stay is short. You can't help but begin to see life from the perspective of what is most important, what is real and what brings you joy.

Thus, my countless "what if?" questions emerged. It surprised me to have such confidence to begin to ask them. I knew that if I was invested in answering, the hooks on which I hang the pillars of my daily activities might have to change. Priorities might shift. Relationships might begin again. Life-giving experiences might come from new sources.

What I found, though (again, a surprise) is that in simply asking the: "What if ____?" questions, joy was already waiting for me there. There was delight in having the time and the freedom to imagine my life not from the perspective of obligation, prior commitments, or what might be expected of me, rather, what is most real.

What if I had the courage to live out of my most authentic gifts? What if I had the freedom to be fully the woman I was made to be? What if nothing held me back?

Such questions are among those I'm continuing to ponder and keep close even as I've re-entered the world of all things church. So, I'm thankful, yes, deeply thankful that the gospel word today came to us as "My peace I give to you" for when you begin to stir up all of the "what ifs?" about your future, an extra dose of peace is needed to see the process through.

I hope that even if you don't make it to Sedona anytime soon (though I highly recommend it), you'll have enough quiet time to begin to ask some "What if?" questions of your life as well. After all, just as one person in Sedona said to me this week, "Life is too short not to keep it real."