As can be seen by the above picture, Experience Nashotah was a bit on the chilly side. A couple of weeks ago, Wisconsin got a bit of a snowstorm, I am quite thankful to God that we got to "experience" the beautiful after-blizzard blanket rather than the frigid layering of said blanket.
This was my first real trip to Wisconsin and I must say I am quite impressed. When I moved to Texas, my mother and I rode the train across the northern US states to Chicago (and down to Texarkana, all in all a lovely trip) and that late spring was my first glimpse of such a beautiful area of the country. Unfortunately, one can only see so much through a tiny window.
Aesthetically, Wisconsin is wonderful. From the tall pines and secluded wilderness reminiscent of my youth in western Washington to the (dare I say) quaint peaked gables and bright colors of residential and commercial buildings, I have decided I could be quite at home. I look forward to the next three years (God willing) of being part of such a welcoming and fun community.
Spiritually, I have come to realize this weekend that (even though I am not the one discerning a call) I have a lot of growing to do. I am beginning to realize how I can become the supportive clergy wife Sean will need me to be. During a lecture by Fr. Klukas (we were allowed to observe several classes during our "Experience"), I realized an answer to a faith question I have pondered for years: Why is it important for us to acknowledge the pain and suffering we experience in our lives? We must do so because it is only through our pain and suffering that we can truly appreciate grace, mercy, salvation.
To use an example from this weekend, I learned that no restaurants in Wisconsin serve Diet Dr. Pepper. Neither does Nashotah House, nor even Milwaukee Airport. Although I occasionally had some tea or coffee to sate my caffeine addiction, for three days I longed for a sip of that lovely ambrosia. I would have even settled for a regular Dr. Pepper (corn syrup and all). Imagine my utter amazement when the flight attendant for the trip back to DFW produced a shining white aluminum can out of the back of the drink cart for me. For the next hour I savored the flavor of that delicious Diet Dr. Pepper, and the nagging caffeine-withdrawl migraine began to dissapate. I can drink Diet Dr. Pepper all day long, every day, going through a fridge pack in less than a week. But I only began to really appreciate having this drink when I suffered from a lack of it.
The example in +Klukas' class used 9/11 as an example of learning how to appreciate the gifts given to us in the face of tragedy. We understand that bad things happen, and if we use that understanding to strengthen our faith in Christ we begin to appreciate the sacrifice He made on our behalf. To put it bluntly, I understand that humans flying hijacked planes into skyscrapers filled with other humans is an evil act. It is an act that clearly defines right and wrong. As a result, I know that I must pray for my fellow humans and for myself. I realize my time on this earth is not long, and I begin to appreciate that Christ (through His sacrifice) has opened the door and pointed down the correct path for me to begin my journey for without Him how lost would I be!
I apologize for going off on a tangent when I intended to speak of these last few lovely days at Nashotah House, but I felt it needed to be said. For more information on the relationship of suffering and appreciation of such, please see the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15. To conclude this post, I would just like to say that this week was a blast! I <3 Nashotah!