Posts Tagged ‘Santa Fe’


As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2, KJV)

Yesterday we completed the first full day of our New Hope Presbytery intercollegiate mission trip to Santa Fe. Coming from a rain-and-snow saturated place, where the rivers are swollen with muddy runoff, I am struck by the dryness of where we are. Obviously people have lived here for thousands of years and have adapted to the lack of water. I’m not sure if I can do it before the week is up!

Almost as soon as we arrived, our hosts began advising us to conserve water. Water is everything here, they said. If you have water, you’re set up for success.

And yet even with plenty of water in my bottle, I thirst.

I thirsted working on the Santa Fe Community Farm, as dry dirt found its way into my eyes, nose, and mouth. Back home, whenever we plant a garden I worry about mud and overgrown weeds.  I’m afraid gardening at home is not as much of a spiritual exercise as it could be.  The change of perspective to an arid environment helped me think a lot about the challenge of feeding everyone on the earth.

I also thirsted during our visit to Mass at the cathedral in Santa Fe, because I am not Catholic and therefore not admitted to communion. (I understand the reasoning behind this doctrine and practice, and have attended Mass several times before, but this time I was definitely aggrieved. I could almost taste the wine and could almost feel the refreshment I normally feel at the Lord’s table — but remained incomplete.)  I suppose our Christian communities will always be a little dry until we can work out our differences.

Finally, I experienced an emotional thirst for comfort and companionship. As I write, I’m already feeling more connected to my team members, but there is always an awkward dryness at the beginning of these trips. At the end we’ll most likely experience a deep well of our connectedness, both as humans and as disciples, but we can’t get there without working through the dry period of being strangers.

By the way, to accomplish all that we set out to do, we have divided into teams. I’m on team 2 but I hope to get some perspective from Team 1 as the week goes along.

I am counting on Christ

“Christ is counting on you.”

“And I am counting on Christ.”

This short liturgy is part of our annual commissioning service for college students going on a mission trip. Near the end of the service, the leaders pass out simple wooden crosses, and the words are recited by the giver and receiver as each cross is handed out.

Over the last few years, it has been relatively easy to say these words as I gave or received a cross. In my five short years of campus ministry experience I’ve traveled to places that challenged me. And, as someone who’s both a pastor and a woman, I have an extra layer of challenge when I visit new places and need to explain who I am. On those trips, I instinctively knew I needed to count on Christ.

This year our mission trip destination is Santa Fe, New Mexico. As we passed around the crosses at our service this weekend, I felt a little weird saying the words. After all, Santa Fe is a beautiful American city. There has been no natural disaster recently, I know of no recent crisis apart from the recession, and I wonder a little bit what the challenge will be.

To be sure, there are needs in Santa Fe, and we will spend time in service helping to meet those needs. I think the challenge, and the need to count on Christ, will emerge more within the group. We have made some covenants with each other about how to live during the week, and living out those covenants may be tough.

Here’s what we have promised each other so far:

  • To go to the grocery store only once during the week.
  • To re-use materials, such as plastic sandwich bags, water bottles, and cloth lunch bags.
  • To memorize a verse from Scripture.
  • To let everyone in the group have a chance to talk before anyone gets a second turn.
  • To spend time in silent retreat at a monastery (Christ in the Desert) and working with a spiritual director near the end of the trip.

These are simple practices and probably none of this will radically change the world. But the week of practicing these disciplines could change us.

I think I will be challenged by several of these promises, particularly the re-using of materials.  I’m always in a rush and it is so easy to get water, coffee, lunch, or anything in a disposable container.  To make it through the week, to avoid falling back into old patterns of consumption and clatter, we will all need to count on Christ.  I hope that when we return we’ll be more attentive to how much we use and how much noise we make in our daily lives.

Our commissioning service also included reading Philippians 4:10-13 (” I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”)  Paul writes in chapter 4 about having experience with plenty and with want.  The Scripture just happened to be a daily Scripture reading on the Presbyterian Church (USA) daily reading site.  It was truly one of those moments when everything comes together.  I love that I’m taking a journey during Lent, and that I, a person with so much stuff, will make the choice to make do.  Furthermore, in the spirit of the letter to the Philippians, I’ll be challenged in the knowledge that everything depends on God instead of on me.

I am counting on Christ.