Reflections on my own formation

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This week I’m attending the Forma conference in Houston for those who work in Christian formation. A running theme so far has been the importance of tending our own faith and being formed ourselves before we attempt to help anyone else on their faith journey. I think this is very wise, and I’ve believed for some time that “You can’t give away what you don’t have” when you’re in ministry. Earlier in the week, I was also blessed to attend the pre-conference at Camp Allen in Navasota. I had time to walk around the property and enjoy some solitude by the lake. I grew up in Texas and found myself somewhat overcome by memory. I spent a good deal of time reflecting, meditating and praying to try and hear what all these memories were trying to say. I wound up writing a poem about it. I offer it here and hope it can encourage others to pray and listen for God’s still, small voice, that speaks love into our hearts; healing, life-giving, redeeming love that makes it possible for us to love others and invite them to experience God’s love.

This familiar landscape washes over me
And I’m submerged in memory
I can’t resist
So I let myself sink
I’m a boy, then a man, then a boy again

I sit on my grandmother’s porch swing
Gently pushing myself with my foot
Against the green, wooden flooring
Feeling the ridges and warped boards under my toes
Looking out over fields where cattle graze lazily in the late afternoon sun
Where mesquite trees line the fence rows like shepherds
And the light whispers on the fields, assuring me that God is

I stand in a classroom of teens trying to explain
Elizabethan English and iambic pentameter
A family feud between two households
Two star-crossed lovers
And what it means to love and be loved

It’s the Fourth of July and my aunt is taking us swimming
The sands give beneath my feet as I enter the water
My eight year old limbs are cradled by the Brazos
And somehow I know that the river accepts me
She delights in my presence, giving me my first baptism

When I surface, I see
All these moments are tied to this moment
Now
Sitting by a lake, near the place of my birth
With the sun, the grass, the trees, and the water
Like old friends
Whispering
You’re home
You’re home
You’re home

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