Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Speaking and Listening and Learning a Lot!

After months of waiting, it has finally begun! My first speaking engagement of the '08-'09 season was two weeks ago. I was asked to speak to a group in Monticello, IL called The Mom's Group and was so looking forward to meeting them! After a months of exchanging emails, Thursday morning dawned and I climbed into my van to make the long drive downstate.... but wait, was that a raindrop on my windshield?

As I headed for the highway and turned my radio to a weather update, I began to realized that it was not ONE raindrop... No, what it was, in reality, was a hurricane come rushing in from the Gulf of Mexico north to Illinois. Never before in my whole life have I ever seen such rain!

So, down I drove, through this onslaught of water and all the while I hoped that the women who attend The Mom's Group would indeed show up. On a morning like this almost anyone wants to stay in bed, especially those who will spend the whole day trying to entertain children who cannot play outside!

Two and a half hours later, I found myself in this sweet, little town at a gorgeous, old church and following the voices (and smell of fresh coffee!) I located the group. I went to talk with them about something that has worked well for my kids. I received from them much, much more.

As soon as I arrived, I was met at the door and offered a cup of coffee. I felt noticed and welcomed and tended to right away. Once inside I found a wonderful group of women seated around a room that had clearly been set up just for them. They exchanged names and snippets about their lives and were given contact information in cute, little books and I know that they left feeling part of something that would offer them connection and support. There was lots of laughter, freely asked questions and a camaraderie that was fun to be near. The rain had dampened nothing and I was glad that I had come.

It was two long hours home and I was tired. The rain did NOT stop... it did not even slow. But, I had that time to think about what is important to all of us. I went to share a story, an idea, a plan... BUT I came back remembering how much it means to be handed coffee you did not make, to hear a story that is not yours, and to laugh with people who understand the place where you are today. We all need these simple things but in the rush of our daily lives, we often do not find time to offer them to one another. I know I don't do it often enough. I am grateful to the Mom's Group of Monticello for helping me to remember these simple but grace-filled truths.

I have a lot speaking to do this year and I know that the hope is that I will bring a word, an idea, or a bit of encouragement to the groups that I am blessed to visit. But, in the midst of a hurricane in central Illinois, I was reminded about how much I have to learn from the women I will meet in all of these groups. The season has begun and I am excited... the learning started with reminders we all may need to hear... reminders about the importance of community, of connection and of coffee, too.
Let's look for ways to offer these to one another... to enfold those around us, to build community with our words and actions, and to offer a cup to someone who just may need a break. I learn this lesson with you... and I am off to bring a latte to friend. : )

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