It’s funny how this life works. Every once in a while, I get thrown an opportunity I’m not sure I deserve. Every once in a while, I receive a ridiculous opportunity to meet people who touch my life forever. I don’t claim to “get” this, but I am ever so thankful. And so was the Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat® weekend.
On May 22nd, I embarked on my first IoH retreat. To be honest, I was a bit freaked out. I was asked to be a counselor. Yeah, like the kind that, on her best day, may offer WISDOM to people. I was asked to help guide a group of 8 couples, each of whom was facing a life-threatening illness… each of whom had absolutely been through the medical, relationship, and spiritual ringers… each of whom had at least one young child, just a couple rooms down the hall.
Oh, man. Could I possibly say the right things? How could I expect to guide these clearly wiser-than-me couples? What could I possibly have to say, that had not already been said to them? What if I actually said the WRONG things and turned people away forever??
I realized, early on, that this entire “crazy adventure” of the Legacy Retreat® was nothing more than what a lot of people call a “God Thing.” And so I just went with it.
The team of individuals I was working with was just beyond my expectations. I couldn’t believe I was actually one of these people. What did I have to give? Again, freaking out.
Bizarrely enough, here is what my best friend in Minnesota sent to me, the morning we met the families. Please know, THIS is what I call a “God Thing.”
In Romans 12:4-11, St. Paul writes of seven Christian gifts of service which build up the Body of Christ, which is the Church:
Just as each of us has various parts in one body, and the parts do not all have the same function: in the same way, all of us, though there are so many of us, make up one body in Christ, and as different parts we are all joined to one another. Then since the gifts that we have differ according to the grace that was given to each of us: if it is a gift of prophecy, we should prophesy as much as our faith tells us; if it is a gift of practical service, let us devote ourselves to serving; if it is teaching, to teaching; if it is encouraging, to encouraging. When you give, you should give generously from the heart; if you are put in charge, you must be conscientious; if you do works of mercy, let it be because you enjoy doing them. Let love be without any pretense. Avoid what is evil; stick to what is good. In brotherly love let your feelings of deep affection for one another come to expression and regard others as more important than yourself. In the service of the Lord, work not halfheartedly but with conscientiousness and an eager spirit.
And then, to top off the strangeness…the “God Thing”…
My 74-year-old mom…an absolute mess when it comes to anything technical…wrote me this email. Please know: MY MOM DOES NOT SEND EMAILS! As absolutely terrified as some of us volunteers (and in my opinion, servants of God) were, as we led this amazing “God Thing” weekend, I took great comfort in my mom’s words:
To my Kids and Grandkids:
I'm writing this to tell you about an unexpected phone call I received on May 22. There was a message on our phone that said, "Hello there. My name is Cliff Stoll and I was, many years ago, a student of Miss Foran in Buffalo, NY. And I figured well maybe, by chance this might be the right number, probably isn't, if it isn't, just ignore it. If it is, perhaps, mention to Miss Foran that, wow, I am dropping a postcard in the mail in hopes that it reaches her.... I am out in Oakland, CA .... This again is a weird phone call from just trying to find somebody. Probably I have the wrong number. If so, just ignore it......But, she was a wonderful teacher in the 1960s and I've come a long way since then. Thank you..."
I called him back and we talked for about 45 minutes. He told me that I, unknowingly, sparked his interested in Mathematics and learning beyond the requirements of a course. He related a particular incident and even named another teacher involved. I was blown away by the fact that he remembered teachers' names and the fact that he thought enough to search for me, after all these years. I taught him in 7th grade, my first year out of college, and for 4 weeks of 8th grade, before I married and moved away. He said he remembered I was marrying a Reardon and relocating to Endicott, NY. That was all he had to go on, until the Internet made things easier. Needless to say, he was the kind of student any teacher loves having in class - interested, inquisitive and wanting to learn EVERYTHING.
Since hearing from him, I turned to the Internet. He is a noted astronomer, physicist, mathematician, programmer, sleuth - you name it. He has more energy than I ever had and has put all his love of learning to good use. I am very proud to say I know him - even if it was 55+ years ago. So happy that he cared enough to get in touch and say 'Thank You.' As I told him - he made my day...probably my year.
I encourage all of my family kids and grands to go to YouTube and search Cliff Stoll. He has many videos, including a TED Talk and many lessons on various topics. Especially, you Grandkids, regardless of your interests, watch and see how exciting it can be to LEARN and IMAGINE.
I want to say, “THANK YOU!” Thanks to everyone, especially the beautiful families, who helped me AGAIN clarify what life is all about…… Who knows what impacts we will discover in decades to come from being joined from many parts into one Inheritance of Hope family!
Patti Price, PsyD, LP, lives with her husband and three children in Rochester, MN. Currently, she is taking time off from her practice to stay at home with her kids and write children's books. Patti is an avid traveler and loves being outdoors... except, of course, during the heart of Minnesota winters. Her favorite activity is talking with and listening to others' stories.