“And anyway, what’s wrong with Maybe?”
My personality doesn’t jive with maybe. Even though I don’t teach math anymore, my brain still really likes that orderly house.
I like things to go off without a hitch.
I like to be prepared.
But if I stop to think about it – some of the best experiences thus far have come from the times I was left with only the maybe.
I’ve been running retreats for over a decade now, and it always seems like the best ones are when something unexpected has occurred.
Over ten years ago, we were prepping to go on retreat with over 50 seniors in the dead of winter. I know I live in Texas, but we surprisingly do have some cold days. We got word right before that the retreat center had some pipes break and there would be no heat and no hot water the three days we’d be there. Not only that, in order to repair the pipes, they had to dig long ditches across the property… so the fields the boys would normally play in had become an obstacle course of muddy trenches instead.
I was thinking there was no way this retreat would happen. It was like 20 degrees and wet outside, but the retreat director was determined. He asked the school community to lend any space heaters they could find to the retreat. He collected several, and off we went. We moved all the talks, mass, reconciliation, etc into one small temporary building where we could run multiple space heaters. We moved the heaters with us to the cafeteria at meals and distributed them evenly for bedtime.
It was still freaking cold – space heaters or not. And I’m guessing very few braved the icy water for a shower so you can imagine how we all looked and smelled. At least due to the ditches and the weather there was far less rec time to get sweaty!
But despite all of that – it is still to this day one of the best retreats I’ve been on. The conversations were richer, the time together more precious.
Instead of giving up, we left room for the maybe… And it made all the difference.
So today when the month of July is a little scattered for me, when my routines are all messed up and I’m wondering if I really can entertain these three boys for at least 30 more days…. I’m praying with this Mary Oliver poem and the memory of every time I left space for the maybe and God’s presence became even more real.
“I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house of
reasons and proofs.
The world I live in and believe in
is wider than that. And anyway,
what’s wrong with Maybe?
You wouldn’t believe what once or
twice I have seen. I’ll just
tell you this:
only if there are angels in your head will you
ever, possibly, see one.”