Tuesday, July 15, 2008

a successful event

For the past couple of weeks, Jordan (a Pathways intern with Partners in Caring) and I have been doing a few activities with a local organization called ACRA. Aids Community Residence Association provides housing opportunities for people living with AIDS, some of whom are also dealing with other disabilities. Most of our activities have been with the residents of one of ACRA’s houses in south Durham. One day we enjoyed packed lunches and conversation while listening to a guy in a kilt play “free” music. We also took them to the NC Museum of Art, with which I was surprisingly impressed. Both of these events gave us some time and space to get to know the residents a little better, and I’m always amazed when my eyes are opened to see how seemingly ordinary moments become those holy conversations we couldn’t have planned or orchestrated.

In our initial conversation, one man suggested having a cookout for the residents of all the ACRA houses. So, for the past few weeks Jordan and I spent time planning the 1st Annual ACRA Cookout. This involved everything from finding a good location to deciding which board games to bring. Jordan asked and received a generous donation from her church that helped make the event possible, for which we were very thankful. We also made the effort to try to invite others from the community, including clients we had encountered through Partners in Caring as well as various case workers, local ministers, etc.

For some reason, in the whole planning process I found myself becoming anxious about the event. It may be that planning events and other like administrative tasks aren’t my ‘cup of tea.’ Regardless, I began to worry about the success of the event: “Will we have a good turnout?” “Do we have enough ‘fun’ things for the attendees to do?” “Will we have enough food for everyone?” “Will the baked beans get cold?” You get my point. One morning, a couple of days before the event, I spent some time reflecting and praying about this anxiety. In that time I realized how my anxious thoughts were unwarranted. I was reminded that the purpose of the event was not to have some blowout cookout that looked like a success from an outsider’s perspective. I really begin to consider that its purpose was holy fellowship, to bring different people together that we might all experience love, friendship, and community. With that purpose in mind, I was able to rest, sensing that God would be present in our little cookout and that I could rest knowing that the “success” of the event was already promised.

Well, the cookout has now come and gone. We had a great time together: eating hamburgers and hotdogs, playing dominoes, and simply enjoying each other’s company. At times both before and during the event when my anxious thoughts begged to resurface, I tried to remind myself of our purpose and to rest in the knowledge that its outcome was promised. Too often I get carried away by my own definition of “success,” which undoubtedly takes me to islands of worry and despair: “Will the baked beans get cold?” It’s actually nice to be reminded that my ways aren’t always God’s ways, and thus to be pulled back to the place where my definitions are reoriented to God’s purposes: “I am with you always…”

1 comment:

Sarah said...

This made me laugh, because I'm one of Jordan's PathWays housemates this summer...nice.