Friday, July 21, 2006

In Spades

My goal when I flew off to my convention last week was to try and find ways of keeping God front and center throughout the time I was there. God apparently agreed with that plan and made it very easy for me by making his presence known to me in many ways, from bumping into a friend from Grace church, to getting to know my cabbie and leaving the cab with a curried goat recipe, to discovering that my flight out was delayed by a few hours, allowing me to get to see the Art Institute of Chicago on the last afternoon.

It was a spectacular week.

God showed up on the first morning, when I discovered that one of my party was going to skip breakfast and head over to Holy Name Cathedral for mass. Before leaving for Chicago, my friend Kathy had told me to try and go there, so I immediately said I would like to join her. Yes I felt sadness that I couldn't take communion... but it was amazing to see this huge cathedral filled to the brim with people on a sunday morning. And the homily wasn't bad, either.

I felt God when I went and sat by myself on the riverwalk near our hotel. I felt his presence when looking into the leaves of a tree I couldn't identify. When I discovered a level of calm and peace within me I didn't know I had. I knew God was present when, after 4 days of rooming with two other women, it occured to me that I still felt serene.

I met God's presence on the plane ride back, when I got bumped to a new seat, wedged between two men, neither of whom was thrilled to lose the precious empty middle seat. But I struck up a conversation with the man on the window and it turned out he runs a charity to help build a school in his hometown in Haiti. He and his wife live in Brockton. I wrote him a small check on the spot and we spent the rest of the flight talking about ways that each one of us can help in a world gone mad. There were several points in the conversation when I was moved to tears by the grace of God. I am sure we will be in touch again, especially when Nguyen and I think about doing something similar in Vietnam.

The biggest thing, for me, was that I felt utterly unselfconcious for the whole time. I felt good in my skin. I didn't worry about what people thought of me. I offered to say grace at meal times. I realized that the confession has really shifted something in me. I feel like a different person. I feel, for the first time, humble and confident and totally at ease with myself, which of course means that I am at ease with everyone else. I felt, for the first time, fearless about who I am. It was an amazing week.

And the convention was cool, too! On the first day I won a drawing and ended up with hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars worth of Pampered Chef products. I won't know until it all gets delivered! LOL. (Why God thinks I need all these pots and pans, I don't know, but I am sure I will figure out what to do with it all!)


All week, I remembered that your Grace is enough.

It is enough.


erin said...

I am so glad you were able to "stay centered" in the midst of your conference. Oh, by the way...I'm erin...and I love reading your blog. :) In fact, you made my list of "revgals I'd love to meet" from this week's Friday Five...which I see you have been MUCH to busy to participate in. And should you find that God wants you to give all that Pampered Chef stuff to ME, well, I assure you I wouldn't turn it away. God bless! :)

e-Mom said...

Welcome back. It sounds like your week was graced. I look forward to more of your inspiring posts!

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Wow, Erin... I am totally honored to make your list! I would love to meet you, too!

Before going to conference, I heard about St. Paul's trip to the third circle of heaven, twice! (Once at the Sunday service and once on Wednesday.) The bit about the thorn in his flesh really hit a nerve. And God's answer to him hit even harder " My grace is sufficient for you..." I think it was just what I needed to hear. God's grace IS sufficient. So whatever my thorns may be, when I remember that God's grace is sufficient, I can walk in faith.

Iohannes Michahel said...

You wrote: "discovering that my flight out was delayed by a few hours, allowing me to get to see the Art Institute of Chicago on the last afternoon."

You did better than I would have: I would have cabbed to the end of Rush Street that has all the Greek restaurants. Hopa!

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Oh, if I had only know, John. Greek is one of my favorite foods! LOL.

But the Art Institute was such a joy. I got to see some of their Utamaro prints... along with the Gaugin's, Monet's and Manet's. The best part for me was all the rennaisance christian stuff, but we ended up having to scoot out to get to the airport, so next year we are going to plan more time there.

Our lovely Pakistani cabby (of the goat recipe fame) told us there was an Indian neighborhood that had some great restaurants. I might be brave enough to try it next year. (Although Indian or Pakistani food, when it doesn't agree with you, can lay you up pretty bad, LOL!)

And then, there is Roosevelt Avenue, which according to another cabby, has a good, old fashioned diner.

For Italian food: Quartino's. It is new and absolutely incredible. By next year we probably won't be able to get a table. They do a kind of tapas style, but with Italian food. So all little dishes of incredible homemade pastas, salads, lamb shanks braised in tomatoes, polenta, gnocci, rabe.... Coming from RI, I know from good Italian food and this was it. Best I have had. And pretty inexpensive, too, even with a litre of wine. (Tuscan, of course, LOL)

Nancy said...

Thanks for sharing about your week Rachel. I'm so happy that it was so good for you....and the rest of us are blessed in hearing about it!
It's interesting to me that you feel so differently since your confession. To feel confindent and at ease with yourself, and fearless about who you are is a wonderful blessing. Admittedly, I have felt that way only rarely.
Have a wonderful week.

juniper68 said...

Hi Rachel,
Glad to the convention went well and God was present.

On a materialistic note, I wished for you to live in Seattle so you could replenish me you yesterday morning when I opened the cupboard over my oven a my stack of glass mixing bowls fell out and shattered on the stove. (None of that prize booty would happen to be a new set of mixing bowls, would it?.....)

Blessings and welcome home
:) Juniper

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Oh, Juniper,

What a bummer about your mixing bowls. We do sell some, of course, but no... I didn't snag any. (Ours are stainless, which means that at the very worst, you might get a dent! LOL)

But if you need a pizza stone... LOL!!!