Tuesday, September 20, 2011


The past couple of days, what can I say about them?  Hmmm...I know most people reading this would be clueless as to why I would have found a church sponsored "Social Media Boot Camp" to be one of the most interesting  and engaging experiences I have ever had.  I know that few would enjoy sitting with a laptop in front of you for 2 1/2 days, discussing the inner workings of Facebook, Twitter, web sites and blogs.  But as always, what's on the surface is not where the meaning is, for we most often find true value in what awaits us in the layers beneath.

What made this so fascinating was not the logistical challenges that we are faced with when working with 21st Century tools, but it is how we use these tools to develop and enhance relationships.  And what do we find in relationship?  That's easy...we find God.

And God was everywhere the past 3 days.  La Foret, where the retreat was held, is special in all our hearts due to our kids visiting there every summer for church camp.  God was in the whispering of the pines and the scampering squabbits (A rare form of squirrel that looks like a cross between a rabbit and a squirrel).  God was in the chapel but also in the conference hall as computer screens glowed well into the night.  The Spirit was not hiding, but was instead front and center in ways one wouldn't expect at what was essentially a "Tech Camp".  It was a reminder that if we are intentional about being aware and open, we can walk with the assurance that God is indeed with us no matter what we are doing, or where we are. 

Sometimes we forget that as we go about our day, seemingly unaware of the presence of the Holy.  Posting on Facebook, are our interactions grace filled?  Or do we use the opportunity to be filled with snark?  Are we listening to what others are really saying in between those short, typed sentences?  Is God reflected in what we write, the photos we post, and the comments we make in response to others?  I know I fail sometimes at this, despite my best attempts.  Someone will say something that gets my hackles up, and my less-than-gracious self appears.  Or someone will share something that has a hint of something more important than where they went for lunch, and I don't take the time to stop and offer my full attention when someone really needs a caring heart to hear them.  While this was not really the focus of the Boot Camp, it was where my mind wandered as we walked away from class during breaks.

Many were trying to get a handle on what all of this means...are these tools for marketing?  Are they for ministry?  Are they merely a strategically placed electronic billboard?  To those new to all of this, it can be complicated to sort out. 

But we know something, don't we?  After all these years online, participating in Yahoo groups, writing this blog, Facebooking and emailing within the adoption community, I know better than just about anyone else present at this class what sort of depth of relationship all of this Social Media can lead to.   After all, you and I, my friends, have been at this a very long time, some of us for 10 years and counting, and we have very, very real relationships.  Sure, there are many of you that I will never meet face to face, or I might never even learn your name.  You are nothing more than a mere click on the blog hit counter...at least to many that is all you are.  I know you are someone though, seeking something.  Maybe it is solely entertainment as you read about one strange family in Montrose, Colorado.  Maybe you visit because you want to learn more about what adoption is all about, or homeschooling, or the United Church of Christ, or plain old parenting.  Maybe you know us in real life, or are curious and wish you did (or are happy that you don't!!! Hahaha!). 

The thing I do try to remember at all times, is that whether I "know" you or not, be it virtually or in the real world, you are truly "real".  I answer every single email, I read every single comment, I have spoken on the phone to every single person who has ever made such a request over the years.  We are all in relationship with one another, whether anonymous or not.  That matters.

The past few days I spent in relationship with new folks.  That is what this was really all about as we learned from one another, shared our individual perspectives and gained skills.  I had the privilege of being in the presence of some incredibly bright and articulate people, and of feeling I fit in.  That is something that does not often happen for me.  The conversation over meals was not the sort usually heard as pastors and lay persons asked the big questions that had nothing to do with typed answers.  How do we move past saying "all are welcome" to truly welcoming all, regardless of class, color or sexual orientation?  What does it mean to have our "need for giving" met?  How do we help congregations move forward in the midst of major upheaval and change?  What does youth ministry look like in small churches?

But really, the unspoken but understood bigger question was "How can we help others see God?"

Reflecting on all of this may seem boring to the point of tears to many.  However, there is usually a time in one's life when they are filled with gratitude that, long before their need became apparent, someone was sitting around brainstorming ideas that would one day help them fill their need for Spirit connection.  It is then that we God Geeks don't seem quite as geeky after all.

As part of our class assignments, we were given one hour and told to take our cameras out and find photos that fit a theme.  That theme was not assigned, but would be discovered on our own as we wandered around La Foret...but we had only one hour to complete it.  It helped us each to imagine the bigger picture as we developed the details around it.  My theme was sort of a double take on the concept of "Reflection", as I gathered photos that represented the concept both literally and figuratively/spiritually.  I'll share them below, and I hope that as you read this post you have found ways in which God is in your normal, boring old daily life...and that you reflect on it for just a moment:



Dee said...

Community is so important, I think this is a wonderful idea for a retreat. I envy you your time there. I have found so much meaningful support from online communities. They need to be acknowledged.

LOVE the photos, too!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the mini retreat, the journey with you into heart and spirit, walking the paths of LaForet, the paths, the labyrinth, the chapel.

Too often I crowd my life so full that even when I wake in the night or lie for a few moments in bed before getting up, the day, the schedule fill my thoughts. I(all of us) have to make a conscious effort to relax into God.

I'm going back to the pictures now to spend a few minutes walking with God through the grounds of LaForet.

Blessings upon you,