Living at a retreat center where different groups come virtually every weekend from May to October can be a real learning experience in many ways. Some of the people have been coming for years in the same manner as people who go on vacation to the same place during the same week(s) each year and look forward to reconnecting with others who become friends for a lifetime. We get used to each other and look forward to one another from year to year, regardless of those “little personality quirks” that may have rankled at first.
This weekend is somewhat different as most of the people are new to us or have only been here once before. It’s interesting for me to have to work to remember each person’s name. It was easier when I was teaching school many years ago when I had more brain space and my memory was sharper. I was always determined to learn every student’s name in the first few days and prided myself on that ability. Just as God, we are told, knows and calls us each by name, it is always a good thing to be recognized in that way by other people. Now I’m afraid I’ll have to check the list in the kitchen again this morning before I go to serve breakfast…and there are only a dozen people here! But I digress…
My point in opening this topic this morning is how quickly we can jump to judgment by the smallest thing. This person, Anna, looks very Irish and hails from the Boston area. Right away, I am drawn to her. Jim is loud and talks a lot – not so easy for me to like him. Then there are the vegetarians whose needs are more difficult to meet. Couldn’t they just bring some of their own food to supplement what we provide?? (Just an example…we always have vegetarian options.) It’s fascinating to me to watch what kinds of personalities and physical traits are pleasing to me and even how things like regional accents can rankle. I suspect that if these people keep coming for some years, I will come to look forward to their presence with us just as I have come to welcome so many others over the years.
In order not to waste time, maybe I should just start loving and accepting them right away. What a novel idea!