Mackinac In March

Mackinac In March

Mac Isl
Mackinac Island’s Harbor in March – Photo by Chelsea Shrack 

“You know everything is closed, right?” Was the chorus we heard over and over again. A week and a half ago my friend from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary sent me a text. She said, knowing that moving back to Kansas was her destination after graduation, that she wanted to find the time to visit Mackinac Island and Lake Superior while she was still in Chicago.

In March!

We decided it would be an adventure, but worth a try. We did some research, made some calls, and packed our bags.

Mackinac island is known for being a place where no cars are allowed. People come to the island to ride bikes, admire sail boats, buy sweet fudge, indulge at the Grand Hotel, and explore the trails.  The island is alive all summer, but come winter the island goes practically dormant.

Only five things were open on Mackinac Island in March: A B&B, a small hotel, a bar, a restaurant, and a market.

Our ferry ride had about 15 people. Five locals returning home after warm vacations and ten brave tourists. When Chelsea and I realized that we were the only guests at the B&B it was easy to realize that those 10 other people must all be at the hotel (later we would all converge at the restaurant for dinner).

Chelsea and I stuck some foot warmers in the tows of our Merrills and set off for a day of hiking the trails. We navigated ice patches, trudged through deep snow, and admired beautiful views of Lake Huron. We never encountered one other person on our journey.  We rested our minds, worked our muscles, and admired God’s beautiful creation.

What would life look like if we took more time to live in the off-season? To slow down, to explore, and to admire the world around us?

In times gone by it was common for a whole town to close down on Sunday. Every week had one day of “off-season”. You made do with what you had and enjoyed the people and sites around you. Today it is much harder to force ourselves into days of rest.

Sometimes we have to do something a little crazy like going to Mackinac in March.

Rise Boldly

Rise Boldly

Rise Strong

Rise Boldly

The Sabbath day came into practice when the Israelite people were suffering under the harsh conditions of Pharaoh and his leaders. They were constantly working and never meeting Pharaoh’s expectations. So God came in a commanded something transformation. He commanded the Israelite people take a day of rest. This day of rest became an act of resistance to the ways of the world. It stood up for the value of people that went beyond how many bricks they could make each day.

Working in campus ministry, I witness many students whose lives are filled with work and expectations. There is expectations to get high grades, to join campus groups and participate faithfully, there are expectations to be physically fit and look beautiful each day, and expectations to make money so you are not living of loans or your parent’s dime.

All the while there is an expectation that you stay mentally sane and balanced while all these different pressures collide.

A grad student at our campus ministry recently took a day off after becoming violently ill. They said it was the first time they had EVER taken a sick day. “I feel so much more alive,” they reflected at work today.

Taking a day of rest is not an act of laziness. Taking a day of rest is not a sign of failure. Instead we must honor our days of rest, first because they honor God and second because they allow us to rise boldly for the week ahead of us.

Do you need to rise boldly? Consider taking a day of rest.

Join me this August for a two day retreat to reflect on Sabbath, Creativity, and Faith. Learn more here.

Finish Something

Finish Something

This past week, I joined twelve other campus ministers in Santa Barbara for a Retreat. One of the “assignments” of the retreat was to finish something. The director asked us to pick a project and finish something. It didn’t have to be perfect – just done. Some people were intimidated by this assignment because they could not decide what to do  and had no guidelines about what would make it a success. Some grasped the opportunities by the horns. One women said – I’ve never painted but maybe this is the time to start.

When was the last time you finished something? Not a work project, but just something for you. Although traditionally Sabbath Practice in the bible was about refraining from work, I believe in renewing our Sabbath Practice in 2017 we might consider grabbing our creativity by the horns and finishing something that brings us joy. Maybe the final product isn’t perfect, but the journey made us grow closer with God.


Confirmation Class

Confirmation Class

In December I was invited to lead a confirmation class. The theme of the class was exploring our faith by painting. Most of the students were new to the idea of intuitive painting. We started our a little slow, but soon students began to experiment with color, texture, shapes and words. I encouraged students to incorporate a path to represent that faith is a journey. Some students chose to incorporate a symbol that was important to their faith journey.

When reflecting afterward one student remarked, “At first I thought my painting had to look like everyone else’s, but then I realized it could be whatever I wanted it to be.” I’d call that a success!