It's a funny day, gradually coming to an end. I'm waiting for the last person to enter the building, before I can lock up and go to bed. An Alpine wind has been blowing all day, rattling the rooftop, clearing the air (of what? I wonder), and there is in it something of the sound of a new thing approaching.
We've all been about our business, resting, driving, writing, preparing workshops...bumping into each other at meals, discussing some detail, or checking each other's spirits, energy levels, moods. So much to do, so much to think about, yet disciplining ourselves to rest--as best we can--before our 10-week marathon begins.
Tomorrow our students arrive. Or are they participants? Dissatisfied with both terms, we have opted to call them "heroes." Why? Because one portion of the school, spiritual formation, will describe them as heroes in their own story, within the metanarrative of God's Story.
(To understand this concept, you might want to go check out the Hero's Journey, a pattern described by Joseph Campbell and others. An apt metaphor for the spiritual journey of any Christ follower, the Hero's Journey is about to begin for each one of our heroes: the 10 week School of Mission for Artists.)
And an apt metaphor given the context in which we are training: The Valley of the Inconquerables, the Waldensians, heroes of the faith who died defending the faith. Tomorrow evening also marks a commemoration of the Waldensians, with a torch-lit march up the mountain after dinner; all of us who can manage it will join them, jet lag and all.
Already our heroes have overcome serious obstacles to get here; already we are loving them, and can't wait to meet them. Who will they become over the next 10 weeks? (Who will we become?!) Will they rise to the challenges we give them? How will they react to the Waldensian history in which we are setting this chapter of their stories? Will they emerge as heroes of this adventure, or beaten and daunted?
The welcome bags are prepared, the verses and blessings written, and roommates assigned. Jon has been our busy chauffeur, with three trips to the airport in Milan (three hours away) scheduled between today and tomorrow. Geinene, Cheryl and I will visit various venues for ministry in Torre Pellice, meeting people, checking rooms and brainstorming possibilities. We return at lunchtime to meet the first batch of arrivals, with the last ones arriving this evening. In the morning we will bring them through intros, icebreakers and overviews. A trip to some of the Waldensian sites in the afternoon will set context. Dinner will be a time to socialize and get to know one another more. Saturday we begin the first teaching.
It feels like Christmas Eve...or the launch of a moon shuttle! One detail after another checked off. A strong sense of anticipation. Life is about to change again, in ways we cannot predict, and I wonder how we will all emerge in May, as the school ends. Yes, our desire is to lead our heroes in personal transformation; how can we not be transformed ourselves in the process? The task is daunting but exhilarating. And pales in comparison to what the Waldensians endured.
The Hero's Journey of the pilot OM Arts School of Mission is about to begin...