Convergence is an interesting word. It means a junction, a merging, a union, a coming together. It’s about different things joining and flowing together as a new whole. And that’s pretty much what happened.
This was my first ever Convergence Camp, and I had no idea what was about to unfold. As campers poured into the Bethany Park site over a few hours, they pitched tents, parked campers and caravans in favoured shady spots amongst the plentiful trees, and unloaded their bounty into allotted cabins. There were some I recognised, few I knew, and none I knew well (beyond my husband). That’s an uncomfortable feeling, requiring a healthy dose of courage to break into the animated conversations between old friends reuniting as part of the annual retreat. But break in we did, and were met with open-hearted welcomes, soon sharing some of the realities of life for each other amongst the chit chat. This then is the junction, the coming together.
Ushered into the presence of the Saviour by a band of talented musos and worship leaders, my heart was cracked open a little, and God trickled in. Music, you see, has a way of seeping through the cracks of my heart, to the secret places where I try (but fail) to hold wounded parts together, and pouring there a healing balm so the Spirit can gently touch those wounds and allow healing to begin.
This weekend the words and lives of Charlie and Anita Cleverly spoke profoundly and practically and I have come away with so much to ponder, to percolate, and to integrate into my day to day life. Routine we were told, is the path to revival. I’m not sure I like the formality of the word routine so I’m going to call it a rhythm. I can dance to a rhythm.
So, what has shifted for me now? There’s way too much to capture here and I’m still percolating, but allow me to share a couple of early nuggets that you too might find helpful.
Firstly, the way in which the intimacy of friendship can take the ordinary and make it holy, a meeting of hearts that builds courage and changes lives that is perhaps as significant in spiritual terms as fasting and prayer. God-given friendships are vital for us to flourish and this weekend we were encouraged to realistically consider our friendship status and the way in which we invest in the friendships that matter to us. As Jesus modelled, we function best when we have two or three devoted friends – the sort you can laugh with, cry with, and ring in the middle of the night when you’ve run out of toilet paper, confident they have your back (so to speak). In addition, a further eight to twelve in neighbouring distance, still nearby but less intensely connected, are about all the relationships we can realistically maintain. It’s worth an audit, and some action where further investment is needed.
And secondly the importance of embracing stillness and contemplation as we seek to ruthlessly eliminate hurry, the sickness that keeps us distracted and destroys meaningful connection. The gift of contemplation is part of a rhythmic pattern that includes reading, reflecting, responding and resting. It fits neatly with the practice of mindfulness, now purported by mainstream mental health professionals as instrumental in maintaining emotional balance, yet it is profoundly central to the Christian faith, present from ancient days. This noticing and letting go of thoughts and feelings that arise in the chaos, without judgement but with curiosity, hands and hearts open to hear from Him, has been likened to sitting in front of a warm fire on a cold night, and experiencing its warmth and consolation. It provides a way to sit with our suffering, to linger with the things that provoke us, and to rest in His presence with confidence and trust.
These two facets of life for me are becoming part of the convergence, the coming together of different things, now flowing as a new whole, and mixed into a rhythm I can dance to. I’m so grateful to those who work hard to put the Convergence Camp together, and am looking forward to catching up next summer with our newly discovered northern neighbours to hear what has converged for them too. Maybe I’ll see you there.
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We have invited these writers to share their experiences, ideas and opinions in the hope that these will provoke thought, challenge you to go deeper and inspire you to put your faith into action. These articles should not be taken as the official view of the Nelson Diocese on any particular matter.