The Dinner

Friends, Margaret and Dan and I ate together for it was the last time we would be together before I leave. The thing I felt was that this meal was a little taste of heaven.

First Margaret is a gourmet cook creating a feast from simple, natural ingredients. New Seasons’ beef with GF buns, and condiments galore, baked whole carrots (with the tops on) and asparagus, a huge, beautiful salad and flourless chocolate cake for dessert. Delightful, wonderful meal.

So good — so incredible.

But the evening was more than food. The fun began with my arrival. I’d picked up flowers for Margaret for her birthday that week. And I had brought a gift bag with  some of our homemade art notecards. So as I entered I was holding the flowers and the gift bag, wearing shorts, short white socks, my untucked blue-checkered shirt and my red rain jacket. I was a sight to behold!!!

It was definitely a baggy look. No lines. Margaret looked at me, burst out laughing and exclaimed —

“Little Brian! You’re home from camp!!! And you brought your art projects!! Is that your ceramic handprint?” She asked pointing to the gift bag.

Years of church camps came to mind. The arrival home. The sense of being a kid. The momentary shame that I looked the part in the outfit I’d enjoyed wearing. Just for a nanosecond I felt hurt, but, I know Margaret’s heart. Yes, she’s tough and unflappable, after a long, first career in sales, and deeply authentic, truly honest, and full of love. She’d never want to cause anyone injury. And, I knew, she loves me. Knowing all this I laughed and responded, saying–

“MOM!!!! Yes, I just arrived and found these flowers in a field along the way so brought them for you!!”

That moment at the door, opened another door of blessing for our time. We bantered back and forth with Dan laughing and joining in. We entered into this fun evening of relationship, of light and of joy.

The notecards that I had brought for Margaret were made from the paintings that Gabrielle and I have created. As she opened this gift, all banter about camp ceased, as Margaret was so very blessed. She and Dan were impressed by the artwork. They expressed such joy.

With that alone they understood why I was choosing to take a month to paint while on sabbatical.

We shared about the upcoming sabbatical, the parts that still have me frightened, the parts that have me excited. We talked about what I’m looking forward to and shared stories from our lives. Dan’s story of how and his wife had met and courted was classic. Margaret’s of how God had led her from sales into retooling and becoming a counselor was also one of those incredible “God works in mysterious ways” accounts. It was one of those evenings immersed in the presence of God.

I sometimes think that You, God, orchestrate events out of love just for us. I don’t know how intimately You do this but I believe You are at the very least involved. When I left Margaret’s, I felt this deep gratefulness. I was so thankful for friends, for laughter, for joy, for shared time over meals. You did something more with that night, Lord. You showed me again, how much You are the God of Purpose, behind this journey, behind the planned encounters, behind the joy, behind every experience. I need not search, for You’ll be right there. I need not fear, for this has long been planned. I hear you whisper: “Just you wait, my son, just you wait for all the beauty I have planned along the Camino.”

It’s truly already begun…

About Camino Way 2016 Shimer

On August 22, 1981 I married this wonderful woman, Karen, who has consistently blessed and changed my life and days. We are still in love, all the more with the years. We have four daughters, two sons by marriage, and three delightful, wonderful grandchildren. So, that makes me a husband, father, and grandfather all in those sentences. But mostly just a guy who loves my family. Today Karen and I planted beautiful plants in numerous pots. She had come home with the plants and that experience reminded me how much I enjoy simple things and simple pleasures -- like digging in dirt to plant a flower, like sunlight through glass on a spring day, like clean windows -- just washed ours today -- like a melody that won't escape from my heart. I've been a local church pastor for 30 years as of this June, a number that staggers me for I feel about that age on the inside, but clearly that's not the case. Back in 1988 I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary with an Mdiv-- a time of schooling that has been a foundation for years of ministry. But it is mostly in the building upon that foundation, that has most changed my life. I love people, love seeing Jesus work in people's lives. One of my favorite joys is to pray with someone through some horrible place of memory and see Jesus walk right into their memory world, and turn on the lights in a way that sets their soul free and brings healing. There's nothing like this privilege and I have been there to watch it happen more times than I can count. Between 4 and 7 the associate pastor of my family's congregation sexually abused me, first grooming me, then repeatedly violating my young self. This marked my life. It changed my bearings. It ripped at my faith. It wounded my image of what it meant to be a little boy, and later a man. It has been a point from which I have been in the process of healing for many years now. I'm a survivor, but more than that, I am one who lives beyond what was done. For in the middle of all that stuff, Jesus was calling me, speaking to me, bidding me to follow him to bring change to people's lives within the realm of the very office that was used to harm me. Only Jesus can make light from darkness, hope from despair, and healing from brokenness. I love Jesus. He really is alive, no matter what others may believe. And his life, his presence, his words into my world, his healing power have continued to be the foundation point of what it means to experience life to the fullest. I love writing. I don't really know why on that score for really writing has never been a central tool in my world, nor has it come easily. But I love seeing how words released heal. And I love the way words can connect me to other people's worlds. So, that's why I started blogging. It began because I was planning to blog on a weekly basis when I went to walk the Camino de Santiago last fall. And in order to be able to blog while walking, I knew I had to begin to practice blogging before I was in another country. A friend told me that. Friends are good to help us find ways to live more authentically into our daily lives! So, I started. But what I have discovered is there is something powerful about sharing the story of life with others. So, I have continued. And I love the connections being built through those words. In 2011 I experienced my first seminar in Simply the Story, a bible story telling method that involves those listening in discussion and I decided then -- "this is what I plan to do when I retire." But really-- "why wait until then?" -- so I use this method while I continue pastoring. It sets people free and allows the Word to take root in ways that preaching never has. So again and again I am practicing asking questions and that is good practice for me, because I am frequently better at "telling" than "asking." This has been such a freeing gift. I love training others in this skill. So, a storyteller would certainly be true of me too. Years ago I discovered my mission in life is "the joyful transformation of people's lives through the person of Jesus Christ." And that continues to be where I find my home base, in joy. Where there is joy, I find, there is Jesus, and there is the possibility of transformation. Of course Jesus is in places where there is no joy as well, and once He is there, the place kind of changes because of Him. I love that.
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