I’ve been trying to get to Ring Lake Ranch for about a dozen years because I wanted to experience its wilderness beauty. This was finally the summer that I could make it happen. The timing was tricky. Traveling meant making some tight turnarounds. The #PandemicPastoring Report and Webinar needed editing and time for a news release. Yet back in February when I registered, I could not anticipate all of that. Not exactly.
And then I got sick at the end of my trip to Maine to pick up my daughter from camp. (But it was only strep and not Covid. Thankfully!) And then I lost a treasured piece of jewelry. And then the antibiotics together with the 7,500′ altitude wreaked a little havoc on my body.
Yet in spite of all of that and more, the wilderness beauty did its work on my soul. It was a solace and a grace to be there. I connected with amazing humans and many other creatures, including a horse named Taffy, and a swarm of dragonflies. Here’s a taste of that wilderness beauty…
A Pandemic Wilderness
March 2020 threw the whole world into a kind of wilderness. It was strange and unprecedented. Wild and uncertain. And we found ourselves pulled up short, like galloping across a field and suddenly coming to the edge of a cliff that drops away into a deep and wide canyon. Looking out over the landscape is terrifying and bewildering.
Urgent challenges, sudden losses, and surprising conflicts followed that moment of being pulled up short. The COVID-19 pandemic changed us, and it also change the world we live in. But not everything felt dangerous and unwelcome as we faced that great chasm. In the canyon before us, if you knew where and how to look, wilderness beauty also filled the landscape.
When I surveyed and interviewed pastors and lay leaders about this long pandemic season, I asked what surprised or delighted them. Nearly everyone had an answer that was somehow graced-filled.
Pastors and church leaders found grace and beauty in the wilderness of the pandemic. They found closer and stronger relationships, with God and their family and friends. And some found renewed purpose. Many felt delighted by their ability to adjust to the virtual environment.
While the isolation and challenges to human connection were overwhelming, experiences of joy and delight endured, sometimes from surprising places. One pastor shared this joyful experience: “The resilience and faith of the oldest members of our congregation. They often pastor me in finding rest and peace in my faith. When I call in to make sure they do not feel ignored and disconnected, they appreciate the connection, but always encourage me with their unshakable faith that God’s got this.” -#PandemicPastoring Report, 2022
Want to learn more? Join me on September 1 for a webinar that will share results of the #PandemicPastoring Report. Or sign up to be notified when the report is ready for downloading.
To register for the #PandemicPastoring webinar, visit here: https://3mmm.us/PandemicPastoringWebinar
To receive notification of the report’s release, sign up here: https://3mmm.us/PandemicPastoringSignUp
Since March 2020, what surprised or delighted you along the way? What wilderness beauty is sustaining you through this long pandemic season?