My friends are gone.
At this moment, many of them are thirty thousand or more feet up in the sky, winging their way home. Several will follow the sunset west. A couple will not reach their destination until tomorrow is newborn. One man and wife are still at the airport awaiting their flight time. That’s where I’ll be early tomorrow morning, catching my own chance to spend two hours in a hollow, metal tube in order to reach home again.
Five days ago, eighteen of us came together for a phenomenon we call “annual meetings”—twelve from eight different states plus six locals. We renewed friendships and caught up with each other’s lives. We met new colleagues and began getting acquainted with them. We sat around a big U of small tables, all but two with laptops. (Those two, bless them, endured some good-natured teasing.)
We knew we were well into the 21st century because each morning our leader reminded us to turn off our cell phones and close down our computers so we could give him our attention for an initial time of inspiration and prayer. During that time, our focus was drawn to the story of Aaron and Hur holding up Moses’ hands during a battle (Exodus 17). We learned what constitutes a team and the essentials what make a team work well together.
We learned, we discussed, we explained, and occasionally we disagreed. We wrestled with some challenging issues, and we shared some frustrations. We learned practical things like how to reduce electronic pictures and add video and music to PowerPoint presentations (of course some already knew how). Through it all, we renewed our vision and our determination.
We laughed a lot this week, but we also shared shared needs and prayer requests. One member got some terminal news about her father. Another is a young girl with a strange and serious disease that has kept her from work for almost five months. We were glad for the hours she was able to spend with us.
We ate together a lot this week—everything from sandwiches and pizza to chicken cordon bleu and beef bolognaise. One late-afternoon time slot was scheduled to play together, and I ended up in a game of Apples to Apples with ten other ladies. That was a hoot! At the end of the week, we wrote notes called “Hots” and “Nots”—what we liked about the week and what we didn’t.
And now it is over. In the space of an afternoon, we have scattered to the four directions of the compass. Tomorrow we will unpack suitcases, catch up on laundry, and relish how good it is to be home. Even the “locals” who didn’t leave home will do some of that. Our time together is over, and we are the better for it.
It’s just going to be hard to believe, as I fall asleep tonight, that we will already be so far scattered.