It's amazing how quickly we can forget our own stories. We are inundated with the immediate pressures of today, and if we are lucky, we find time to look ahead with vision for the weeks or year to come. But how much time do we spend considering where we have come from? I realize that I have not spent enough time remembering my own story.
Last weekend, James and I drove several hours through winding mountain roads to find ourselves in a secret garden and quaint lodge at the foot of the Smoky Mountains. We joined an intimate gathering of some staff, board members, Jars of Clay and their spouses, and special donors to the organization.
In the serenity of nature, simplicity and community, our stories were drawn out of us - stories of what Dan saw on his first visit to Africa, of writing the name Blood:Water Mission on the plane home, of a wise and thoughtful friend who ensured that Jars of Clay and I meet, of what it was like for me as a college student to hear their vision, and of the 25-page proposal I wrote on my Thanksgiving break to suggest how we could start Blood:Water Mission.
Stories of driving across the country to Tennessee with my dad, moving into the basement of the Haseltine's home, beginning work in the basement of an old church in Franklin, our first tears together in an AIDS hospice in South Africa, our first dollars raised, our struggles to raise more, and the people who came along at the perfect time to keep this mission alive.
There is delight and wonder in remembering. "What we were thinking?" we asked ourselves. "Can you believe we made it through that?" we wondered soberly. "Do you remember the surprise of that first time we collected dollar bills for Kenya?" we smiled.
On Saturday afternoon, Dan, Charlie, Matt, Steve and I sat together outside among the audience of God's great beauty, and we reflected on the stories of where we have come from. It has been painful, exhilarating, disappointing, beautiful - all of it. We sat there, circled together, with the blue ridge mountains as our witness, and affirmed that we are blessed to be a part of such a story. And then we took the great leap to dream about where we are going next, and we cannot wait for the stories that will come as a result of this new chapter of ours.
But we could not have done that until we had remembered where we came from.
Our stories can teach us, time and time again.
What stories ought you to remember?
May you be as blessed as we were in the important and sacred act of remembering.