Getting Away and Finding the Living Water

August 17, 2012

By Susan Grace Smith

Don't miss the Gathering of the Orders, Oct. 2-4, 2012
I have just returned from a few days of camping at Pinecrest with a group of friends. It was hectic trying to get my son and myself packed and ready to camp while trying to attend to committee meetings, summer program reviews and clean-up, and plans for the coming school year at the church. At times, I thought, "Why am I doing this? It would be so much easier to stay home and keep working." 
As we left the Bay Area and headed east, I knew that eventually I would be out of cell phone range and Internet coverage. I would be completely cut off from any loose ends at the church. I would be free to relax.  It didn't feel that freeing at the time, though – it just felt stressful.
However, as the miles passed and the scenery changed, I found myself opening my eyes to the countryside around me and worrying less about the things I had left behind. At the campsite, the trees welcomed me with their quiet awning and the tent even went up without too much bickering with my son. Then I realized why I had come. For the next three days, there was nothing for me to do but sit and read a book, catch up with friends, play with the kids, and swim in the lake. I might kayak a little or maybe take a hike, but really I had nothing to do. I could sit in the quiet of the forest and quiet my self.
I did just that. And you know what? I came home more connected to my work than I had been when I left. In the time away, I had time to listen to the plans God has for me and to re-imagine how all the tasks on my to-do list fit into those plans. Some clearly don't. I think I'll cross them off. For others, I discovered new meaning and purpose. I even had space to come up with new ideas and feel energized, rather than overwhelmed, by them. 
It was good to get away. It was good to hear God guiding and encouraging me. It was good to focus on being instead of doing.
One day, we hiked along and through a mountain stream. The water was so cold that it hurt my head at first. Yet standing in the middle of the creek, looking in both directions and seeing only beauty and peace, the water began to feel like a reminder of all that is good and right. It began to strengthen me and fill me with the possibility of all that can be in God's world. 
I had to leave the stream, and now I find myself wondering when I can find that quiet, refreshing place next. I'm looking for it and hoping that I will make the time for it. Will you?
The Gathering of the Orders will take place Oct. 2-4 at Mount Hermon. Come to the mountains for some quiet reconnection with yourself, your colleagues, and your God. It is always hard to get away, but we are better equipped for ministry when we do. 
The living water lives in us. Come to the Gathering of the Orders to feel its refreshing peace. Sign up online at