As I begin typing these words, I am aware that at this exact time last week, we were beginning to gather around the dinner table, mugs full of warm mulled apple cider, ready to enjoy a meal prepared by loving hands as Kayla was ready to lead us through a devotion and share pieces of her story. It’s 7:33pm and to say I am done reflecting on Harvest would be so far from the truth…
*All photos by the amazing Jamie Mae Photography
Similar to our Nourish event held in June this year, my first dose of reflection exposed my own deep unravelling. While I guide people through work I am also doing (you can’t teach what you don’t know), it is after the event passes I begin to do my own reflecting work– what did I learn, how did this event impact me, what did it uncover? My first pass at processing the event was, honestly, avoidance. It was avoiding processing it. Not because I was sad it was over but because of what is stirred inside of me. Doing the work of reflecting and self-growth is necessary, but it isn’t glamorous or fun. It’s required. I took an afternoon at Thermea, took out my journal, and began to write. To process all the emotions and uncover the things I needed to. This was followed by late-night swirlings in my mind of how to write some of things into this blog post, which was then followed by a ‘note’ on my phone the next day of a few tidbits I thought would be worthy of this post as they expressed in a raw and real way my experience at the event.
I want to share those words with you before sharing my final thoughts of reflection…
“I curated the playlist for Harvest to end intentionally with the song ‘New Wine’ by Hillsong Worship. You see, the words ‘make me a vessel’ have become both a battle cry and an invisibility cloak— the two things I feel I need most before having to share my passion and heart with people.
My day, the day of Harvest, began with being locked out of my house for an hour and half in the morning, having a $200+ bill to pay for a locksmith to come to my house and get me in, which clearly threw off my timelines and left me in a place of recognizing what I needed most– to take a few moments of stillness on my yoga mat with worship music on singing praises that God IS good. From an off-schedule morning to what felt to me like a rushed set-up of the venue where I was welcoming people in while still setting up, I was putting the final boxes way, grabbing my notes from behind a partition wall and I took a deep breath…
That deep breath reminded me to put a smile on my face and go out and greet people. After recent conversations about how I’m more of a ‘get things done kind of person’ I uncomfortably sacrificed my own brief moments to gather myself and took those small moments of time to greet others, be cheery and chat while more people kept filing in. Sentiments of “I’m so excited to see you” and “I’m so happy you’re here” were met with my preoccupied mind being concerned with the time because timelines are a thing I’m keenly aware of when renting space on a contract.
I counted the mats, realized it was time to start, tossed my hair into a frazzled bun and it was time to begin…
At this point, I sat at the front, had everyone quiet down and I felt simply completely overwhelmed…
Overwhelmed by the chaos of the day, the setup and not feeling like I had a chance to breathe and gather myself before baring it all for our guests.
And overwhelmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit in this room of women who sacrificed their most valuable resource, their time, to be here tonight.
I got choked up welcoming everyone because of that Spirit awareness. Rehearsing lines like “it’s a privilege to be here and to share with you; to welcome you and host you when you sacrificed of your time and finances to be here and we understand it’s a sacrifice and we are truly honoured”… which, ideally, would have gone into a quick note to share how having our basic needs met so we can actually come to events like this is an entire different privilege of its own. This ended up being basically just me choking back tears, getting across 2% of that, then having our guests introduce themselves to each other.
The yoga and journaling continued on as planned– an opportunity to share with these women who came, to offer them the beautiful metaphor of the cycles of the seasons as their guide to reflection (as we commonly see nature being referenced to help us understand lessons in the Bible). We looked at spring as our season for planting intentions, summer as our time to seek God’s wisdom in how to make our intentions grow, and then autumn as a time to Harvest; to reflect on what grew, what didn’t, ask the hard questions of Why and to write out our prayers to God for contentment no matter what our Harvest is and to release the need to compare our Harvest to our neighbours. Leading yoga with journaling mixed in was an idea I had before I took my teacher training so it was so so lovely to have the opportunity to lead a class like this. When I would offer the question for reflection, it was so stunning to see each woman grab her journal and pen and begin to write– to see the hands move as words were flowing was beautiful.
Sharing the meditation at the end of the class was a highlight, as it tends to be when the opportunity to lead a meditation with such a strong faith-focus is presented. The imagery of God pouring an overflowing Harvest into our hands was a powerful and lovely way to end the active portion of the evening.
The guests slowly made their way to the table, selected a seat, filled their mug with mulled apple cider and the dinner began. Kayla’s story is inspiring and resonated so deeply with so many in attendance. Sentiments of variations of ‘me, too’, opportunities to pray with people who came, and other stories shared are a testament to the incredible goodness of God and how He will use our stories to impact others. Kayla speaks with such authenticity in a relatable way that makes those who hear her feel seen, valued and like she can’t wait to connect with you. Kayla genuinely prioritizes connection and it’s evident in how she spoke, the way she carried herself throughout the evening and in every thoughtful question she asked each person she chatted with.
The food was delicious and everyone had their fill of vegan and gluten-free butternut squash soup with sourdough bread, harvest quinoa and kale salad, epic charcuterie boards loaded with fresh fruit and veggies, olives, scrumptious hummus and the vegan cheese everyone loved! Once dinner was wrapped up, conversations were flowing and our guests were encouraged to wander outside to the firepit where gourmet s’mores were ready to be made. Blankets made the evening feel cozy and the weather, while being rainy most of the week and weekend, departed for a truly lovely evening under the stars.
As guests packed their reusable shopping bags with their gifts for the evening and said goodbye to friends new and old, and as we packed up the donations gathered for Siloam Mission, it was lovely to step-back and know the event was a success simply because the women who came found the evening to feel like a mini-retreat; a place to rest, to connect, to feed their soul and sit in the presence of a God who loves them so much.
To those who attended the event, thank you. The words simply don’t seem elaborate enough yet there’s something so impactful by the simplicity of the words. Thank you for coming, for being fully yourself and immersing yourself in this experience, for taking a chance on a little event and making it what it was. Without you, none of this would have been possible. Thank you.
This evening was a lesson for me in authenticity. To understand that just because I approach things a certain way doesn’t mean it’s bad or needs to be changed. There’s value in how we are all different. I could say this evening would have felt more real than like a blur had I taken the time to myself that I knew I needed— just those few extra moments behind that wall or a few moments in the bathroom prior to beginning, that I’d remember more and would have felt more present. Instead, I’ll look at the lessons learned and approach each new undertaking with a quiet confidence in my self-awareness. Deep breaths. Stewardship. And confidence in the One who made me who I am.
Thank you to our amazing partners who helped bring this event to life!
This initial reflection was then met with scripture at a Thursday night yoga class I taught to an amazing group of women that have been meeting together to study biblical hospitality for the last 6 weeks. The scripture was Colossians 3:14 (NLT)
“Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others].”
Yes, the night was a lesson in authenticity but also a reminder of how I continually need to be reminded to ‘put on love’, to wrap myself in it as an all-purpose garment and extend it to others– not just in moments where I feel like it, in moments where I don’t feel frazzled, but especially IN those moments. It was a bold reminder that there is such benefit in stopping to breath. To take that sweet breath, then take a few more, to realize that we get our strength from God but if we aren’t stopping amidst the chaos to connect with Him we will forget to grab Love out from the closet and wrap ourselves up in it. Wrapped up, cozy in Love, we can extend it to others to bind us together in unity. A beautiful place of authenticity met with the goodness of a God who made you to be unique and who wants you to be a vessel for His love and goodness is where that sweet spot of the Spirit moving lives.
My battle cry, my invisibility cloak, my all-purpose garment will continue to be an ask for God to make me a vessel for all He has.