The time for my home convention for another year has come and gone again. I am feeling sad it is over and that I wasn’t there. I do this every year. Of course I could have gone, but of course I did not. I can only imagine the flurry for a few minutes it would have caused as word spread that I was there. That part makes me smile.
But you know what I miss about being there? It’s not the meetings. It’s not the singing. It’s certainly not most of the sermons. It’s not really the people. It’s not the food although I do miss the smell of breakfast cooking and that smell wafting over the grounds in the cool morning air. Its two things: the grounds themselves and the sense of belonging I always felt there.
At this particular convention (Saginaw, Oregon), I really do not have one negative memory per se. Yes, there were a few disappointing happenings and visits or lack thereof but for the most part, it was all good. My mother took me to this convention when I was just a few weeks old and we went every year until I went into the Work and was sent to another convention for preps. I know every inch of those grounds and I wish I could just walk around there one more time.
I would walk down to the old kitchen and remember how it was set up and the fun times at preps. Then up the hill to the girls/women’s dorm through every floor of that old building (there are 4!) ending with crossing the bridge on the top floor to the path leading up to the old house.
Back in my day it was main house (although I understand not anymore) and here I’d go inside where again, I have so many memories. I would walk up the stairs to my very favorite room, the screened porch where I sometimes got to stay during preps when the mill across the highway was still running and the trains would go by and make the house vibrate. I would peek in all those fun little closets upstairs, then come down and go up the spiral staircase to that bedroom up there. Check out the laundry room and that little bathroom off of it us sisters would use. I would sit out on the lawn in front of that house in the shade of those very very tall trees and remember how in my teen years, there would be a bonfire out there every evening after the evening meeting.
I would walk up the hill to the meeting hall and just be. I know I would spend a lot of time in that room; again so many memories would be flooding my heart and mind there. Memories of my youth; I professed in that room, the rows where us kids would sit and where I felt “called” to go into the Work. I spoke on that platform for years, then I sat in the crowd as a “saint” my last few years there.
I would walk up to the “new” kitchen and walk thru it and the cafeteria upstairs, then out to the beautiful terraced areas where the RV’s are parked. And then finally, I would walk that gorgeous trail on the mountain behind the grounds, and come down and look at the view from up there as you looked down on the grounds.
That’s what I would do if I could go there again. Those grounds will always be holy ground to me. Maybe one year I will find the courage to show up for convention just so I can be there again.
Not being there is part of the grieving process I’ve had to go through since I made the decision to not attend the meetings anymore. Yes, it is hard but what was harder was staying when I could see how wrong the doctrine is and how they don’t believe in Jesus fully and how little they make God. How stuck they are in tradition and not open to anything new. How exclusive they are. How much emphasis is put on the outward and not nearly enough on the heart.
I miss the feeling of belonging I had in the group; I don’t think that will ever be replaced. I miss the camaraderie I had with the workers. However, when I think about it now and the quality of visits I would have there compared to the quality of visits I can have now with other Christians, there is a huge gap between the two.
The Lord truly does give and then take away. I no longer could stay in the group just because it was comfortable there or I loved it there. I just couldn’t. I had to make a choice because I could not/would not compromise. I never dreamed He would lead me where He has lead me, but I can see how totally right it has been. I have been saved and rescued, restored and renewed. The Lord is so precious to me; He’s been walking with me all this time when others have come and gone, He has remained. I love You so much! My heart is full of You, Lord!
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”.