patchwork tent


It was the kind of situation that sit-coms and nightmares are made of.   It was 8am on a Saturday and I was calmly eating my breakfast with the excited assurance that the ‘retreat day’ that I’d help to organise for children and adults was going to happen.  Art supplies?  Check.  Catering?  Check.  Well-known speaker?  Check.  Venue?  Check.  Amazing team?  Ready to go.

Then the text came.  The speaker had a tummy bug.  She would email me all her notes.  Sometimes prayers have no words.  You can imagine mine.

I never ever would have put myself forward to lead a day that was attempting to be good for all ages, and not only good, but helping everyone to connect with God.  Who would?  As I sat for a moment, taking it all in, I realized that I had no choice.  53 people were coming with the desire to be with each other and to be with God, I wasn’t going to stand in their way.

The whole day felt a lot like swimming to me.  I just jumped in and went for it.  I really liked what the speaker had planned for the day so it was a joy to pass on.  People often say that faith is a bit like realizing that you can float – in that you won’t know that you won’t sink until you put your toes in the water, step out a bit and let the water carry you.

Although the structure and most of the content of the day was there in the emailed notes I received that morning, there were places where the speaker had written, ‘please use your own examples here’.  The topic was connecting with God and specifically the ways that we ‘catch’ messages from God.  Fortunately, I’d brought my journal along and during the lunch break I was desperately searching for ways that I felt God had been in touch.

It wasn’t that hard to find songs that had spoken to me, friends that had said the right thing at the right time, words from the Bible that seemed to pop out of nowhere, images that seemed to recur and dreams.  It was one dream that I’d written down over a year ago that really jumped out at me.  I’d dreamt of a beautiful tent made out of lots of bits and pieces.

I didn’t know what it meant at the time, but sitting there in that lunch break, surrounded by people of all ages, each contributing their bit to the retreat, it felt like an apt picture.  God used all of our bits and pieces, our weaknesses and our uniqueness to make a very beautiful thing that day.