HighCalling: Share the Couch

I sit on this couch and try on words. I tug and pull, suck in tight, breathe out deep, turn around and look behind…My living room becomes the changeling stall in which I am forever changed—forever changing. Any given day might produce a new ensemble, there are endless choices: encourager, mourner, dreamer, lover, poet. Like superman I don these words and I am transformed from one who sits to one who soars.

But even soaring—even transformation and all that–gets lonely here on the couch.

That must have been it—that human need to be heard—the thing that sent me searching. But when I got involved with The High Calling I was not aware of a deliberate effort to find kinship. Yet, this is what I found. I scoot over on the couch and pat the cushion beside me. With this simple gesture I usher into my living room an online village of creative thinkers– artists who express their faith through their art and encourage each other in unique ways.

Those solitary times on the couch are over. Time to take the transformation out for a walk. So I do. I hang my ramshackle ensembles out on the line—let them flap in the breeze. And I am taken by surprise at the joy of it.

When I entered the HCB community, I had no idea what online community meant. I was just a blogger looking to learn from other bloggers. Last week, the High Calling Blogs editorial team met up in Texas for a retreat. Perhaps you’ve heard about it? Many of us met in the flesh for the first time, preparing for the launch of a new and improved website.

Before we took flight, our senior editor (Marcus Goodyear) asked the team members, what are three things you hope we’ll do together/talk about/learn/accomplish during our time at Laity Lodge?

One of my three was this: I would like to learn more about Laity (the foundation that supports HCB)…some more history and how we all are interconnected…I would like to know more about the evolution of the two separate online presences, (HighCalling.org and HighCallingBlogs.com) etc. I’d like a good understanding of where I (we) fit into the machine.

In other words, what’s a little blogger like me doing in a place like this?

On the way to Laity Lodge, that question loomed large before me.

We spent that first day in San Antonio, playing and getting to know each other (has anyone else been to San An and not seen the Alamo? Besides Sam, Vea, Deidra and me? Too busy having fun…). When we entered the canyon, the Frio was our road–we actually drove down a few miles of the shallow river bed to reach the lodge. We arrived around midnight and the night blinded us to the beauty that cupped us. But the stars. The Milky Way is rich and creamy there—swirling around the best and the brightest. I think I saw all Seven Sisters for the first time in my life.

That night I lay my head on my pillow with a smile on my face.

We awakened the next day to the beauty of Laity Lodge. Not only is the natural setting gorgeous, but the attention to detail in the construction of the lodge and its companion structures is humbling. There is artwork everywhere. The tiles in the bathrooms are scripted with verses and quotes to inspire. A fully stocked artist’s studio is available to all. Swings and hammocks pepper the grounds, interspersed with sculpture and gardens with carefully chosen plants. The staff are amazing. The food outrageous. Every detail is attended to.

But that’s not all. Wherever we stepped we felt a hush in our hearts that whispered of the holiness of this ground.

What do you do to prepare for these retreats? Deidra asked Steven Purcell, the director of Laity Lodge.

She wanted to know if there were prayers uttered over every square inch, if our names were lifted up, if these walls were baptized…What? What creates such a hallowed feeling in these canyon walls?

We found out a bit of the answer a short time later when Keith Mirrer, the foundation’s Director of Communications, and Dan Roloff, the Publishing Manager, met with us to give us a welcome and brief history of the organization. They explained to us the dream that was Laity Lodge and how Howard Butt, Jr. grew it into this amazing place.


This is the vision that God gave to Howard, Keith said.

He called it backdoor evangelism.

Dan Roloff explained Mr. Butt’s philosophy. It’s not a five-step program. It’s not a sermon. It’s not a lot of in-your-face God talk.

All of our programs are about encountering God and providing a place for transformation to occur…You come here and Boom! God is here.

He sure did get that right.

And isn’t that what we all want? To be transformed? To feel it in our bones and our hearts and be set on fire by that encounter? Sometimes the preacher in us just needs to get out of the way.

And then Marcus spoke. He pointed out three things that make Laity Lodge such a special place.

Content. Not only is the content of the surroundings amenable to a God-encounter, but the speakers and musicians they engage are excellent.

Hospitality. If you’re not meeting, you’re eating, Steven said. Plus the hammocks. And the swings. Did I mention the art studio? They arranged a concert for us. Need I say more?

Aesthetic. Beauty everywhere. I think I’ve touched on that.

Marcus then drove it home.


Laity Lodge has all these things, he said. How do we bring all this, he gestures to our surroundings, to others?

That’s what we’re trying to do at TheHighCalling, friends. Provide a place where transformation might occur. Provide a God-encounter.

Won’t you scoot over on the couch and invite us in? You are not just a little blogger in this big, big world. Every detail of your life matters. You are part of something so much bigger.

Our Mission:


TheHighCalling seeks to create opportunities for Christian leaders to encounter God through new media tools for the transformation of daily life, work, and our world. Christian leaders are in all aspects and activities of daily life—including home, community, leisure, as well as occupation.

Comments

  1. says

    I enjoyed reading of your experience and seeing your photo outdoors.

    You’re right. The online community has done much to erode the loneliness so common to writers.

    And I hardly think of you as “a little blogger.” I can’t even put you and the term in the same sentence without wincing.

  2. says

    I loved that final invitation. The reminder that we are not little when we are connected to one another. I mean, we are, but we aren’t.

    Really enjoyed this post. Memories and hopes for the future.

  3. says

    I enjoyed this, Laura. Your writing is immediate and gives a great sense of place and community. Given the glowing posts, the time at LL seems to have been special for everyone.

  4. says

    I have so much I want to say here, but I’ll try to be brief. 🙂

    The Holy Spirit truly was palpable at Laity Lodge. Yes, He was with us as we worshipped in song and with communion and in hearing inspired messages. But His Spirit also hovered over the place in the silences. And it reminded me of Genesis 1. (I’m created new, too, because of it.)

    Secondly, Laura, I love how you’ve opened wide the invitation to High Calling. We all want a place to belong. I remember feeling alone in the online world for a time, but the folks at THC made room for me on the couch. And it’s a mighty big couch with room for many!

    God is doing Genesis work with THC, too, and it’s beautiful to watch.

  5. says

    Laura, you captured the spirit of Laity Lodge beautifully.

    Thanks for patting the couch and scooting over! I look forward to getting to know you better in the months to come. 🙂

  6. says

    wow! i checked out their wbsite…what an incredible place! i would LOVE to spend a week in the “Quiet House”…I would miss my “Noisy House” but it would be very refreshing! 🙂

  7. says

    It is lovely to read more about HCB and to experience through your words the beauty and inspiration of Laity Lodge.
    I am becoming more and more comfortable in this awesome community of bloggers. It really is awesome to me. I am in awe of the talent and depth of character and am timidly looking for a tiny space on the couch just to squeeze in and bask in it all.

  8. says

    This is just beautiful Laura. Hey, I wondered what you all were up to! The “backdoor evangelism” is a really cool way to say it. I’m totally with you!

    Also, love reading about your journey, & I can totally relate. I’m just hanging out online, trying to figure out what blogging is an I find myself in the middle of a rich community. Something I wasn’t looking for but so glad I found. Mark my words, one of these days I’m going to make you a visit to WV! You can’t be that far….

  9. says

    I’ve been to a place like laity…

    Billy Graham’s “The Cove” in Asheville, NC. When driving through its gate, as the upward ascent begins, so does my heart… ascend upward. It’s created for experiencing the rich, deep measure of God. My heart hungers for the retreat… but I will wait a while longer, until I’m physically able to make the journey.

    Until then, the Word sitting next to the couch offers me the same. Different leaves, different colors, different landscape.

    Same ascent.

    I think I’ll head there now and dream of mountains and cowboy hats and far away moments with my King.

    Blessed Wednesday to you, sweet sister. Your life is rich with good soil for the tilling.

    Keep to it.

    peace~elaine

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