What’s the first thing you think of…

…when you see a picture like this? “I want to be there.” “That has to be Ireland…”

InterVarsity’s study abroad program has developed a growing number of pilgrimage experiences that have sent InterVarsity staff and students to places like Finisterra, Spain. Achingly beautiful places. And equipped with very little gadgetry of what I’d call Christian tourism. Commissioned instead to walk, learn, and do mission.

https://intervarsity.org/via-divina

What are you doing in your quiet times with God these days? Can we offer you something different in the month of May? Follow the link above for all the details. The Via Divina is a virtual pilgrimage you can engage from the comfort of your own community and on your own schedule.

What are the critical pieces of the experience?

  • Two walks a week at your own pace and on your schedule.
  • Podcasts you listen to while on your walks.
  • Guided spiritual exercises to help you engage God in your surroundings.
  • Great questions for you to reflect on.
  • Access to a community of fellow pilgrims doing the same thing.

Starting the week of May 14th, my staff team will be doing the Celtic Way together. We’ll each soak up the pod-casts while we go on our walks. I’ll try to keep in mind that I’m walking somewhere in Nebraska, not Ireland. And here’s a further perk – because we’re doing it virtually, its easy to make available to you as well.

As a ministry partner, or a donor, or an InterVarsity alumn, or volunteer – you are invited to sign up and take advantage of the Celtic Way. The cost is pretty cheap… And if you let me know you’re doing it, we’ll find a way to connect during the four weeks of the Celtic Way (May 14th thru June 11th). Everything you need to know is at the link above. There’s an eye-catching video that takes less than 2 minutes to watch. Careful – it will ruin you for wanting to travel.

More one the Celtic Way in the weeks ahead. Back to my back-yard office. It’s actually about as nice as it can possibly be in Nebraska today (sunny and 83 at the moment).

Something Covid Taught Me.

So I got an education Wednesday night this week. I was with our Creighton Occupational Therapy students helping them process their year. It was their last small group meet-up before the end of the semester. I’d sent Maddie and Emily a few questions last week – they’d turned them into a power-point presentation. Off we went for an entire hour!

Here were a few insights they had – see if any of this sounds familiar to you (paraphrasing a bit here):

  • “I learned the meaning of the word lament. Taking inventory of loss. Expressing grief. Feeling sorrow and empathy for the state of the world around me.”
  • “I know myself and my family better after this year. I hated being confined, but the extra time with my family actually made me appreciate them more.”
  • “My empathy tank got a real work out! After a while you realize these aren’t just numbers of Covid cases or numbers of deaths. The numbers are people. Death is real.”
  • “I actually got Covid! I felt awful, yet had to keep pushing my self to accomplish my work. I didn’t think I had that much determination in me!”
  • “I lost my grandfather this year to Covid. I’ve been angry and disappointed with God to be honest. I’ve gone deeper into God, but I haven’t liked what he’s allowed to happen.”
  • “Presence! I’d forgotten how important it is to just be present with people. When you can’t fix things you learn what it means to just be present with people.”

I was curious to see how they’d answer this… “What’s one thing your teachers have modeled for you that you hope will be true of your leadership?” Teaching became quite a challenge this year as you could imagine. “Our professors have had to put up with a lot of adjustments. I was pretty worried about how well I was learning procedures in practicum when we couldn’t actually be in the same room with my teachers. But they were great examples of being creative and flexible. They were patient and forgiving.”

Conversations like this are happening everywhere around me. Maybe you’re noticing that too. When you realize how strange a pandemic is bear in mind the adage “familiarity breads contempt.” We hate this thing, let’s be honest. But don’t let the scale of Covid’s menace keep you from learning valuable skills and insights. Be a champion of processing your experiences. And serve others by asking simple questions like these.

Faculty Meet and Greet – April 17

Tomorrow we’ll be hosting a virtual meet up with exactly the same agenda! My Year with Covid – Three Lessons Learned. We’ll flip the audience this time – and see what the professors are learning! Pray for our gathering – we’ve invited about 30 faculty members here in Omaha and across the state. Pray for a good turn out.