To Welcome Joy


Today I travelled from my home in Lindon, Utah to a resort and retreat center in Carefree, Arizona. It was a 90 minute flight — easy peasy. It was also an exceptionally busy airport day. Long lines. People shuffling luggage along to be checked that included skis, golf clubs, and even a surf board. People are coming from. They are going to. Some travel with excitement and anticipation. Some with sorrow and heartache.

This is the second year that I’ve been in Carefree, Arizona at this time of year. Like I did last year, I’ll again host a space of learning with my colleague and friend, Quanita Roberson. We’ll hug and embrace the group from last year, now in their fourth year of learning with another instructor at the Next Generation Leadership Initiative. These are pastors from around the United States that are part of the United Church of Christ tradition. Quanita and I will have a new cohort of 14 pastors this week focused on team-building — everything from the underlaying story to practices. I feel the gift of being here. To offer learning. And to receive a pile of learning also.

I feel joy to see these Saguaro Cacti. The Palm Trees also. The why of that is in part because they are so unlike what I grew up with. It’s a bit different that the flat and cold prairies of Alberta. Yes, the January to January comparison shows even more difference. And, no, this is not my first time seeing such landscape. But, truth is, there is something joyful that I feel to see the difference. To see variation of expression of life. To see an irrepressible quality of life in these many environments. I find this irrepressibility to be joyful — the cactus and the palms create some access — because, of course, I hope for such irrepressibility in myself and those I get to be with.

This week we’ll be stirring up plenty of learning with the UCC pastors — if all goes well. We’ll stir up some awareness, I hope. We’ll stir up some challenges, I hope. We’ll stir up some joy, I hope.

We’ll stir up some newness with one another
and some irrepressible expression of life, I hope —
in the learning process of going together
and leaning in to one another.

Team. We’ll have the luxury of a week together. The most significant part of this might just well be the welcoming of joy again, taken to deeper levels that many of us might not have imagined, that creates an essential glue in teams and humans being humans in ongoing travel that is life itself.


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