Runaway

It's what I want to do.

Our day at SoulFest this past Saturday was beyond amazing, beyond all expectations.  And the return to a normal routine - even after only 2 days away - has been harder than I imagined.

This could be due to the fact that we are in desperate need of a break and even just 2 days that included a tremendous amount of driving was ... something.  And there is the sure knowledge that we won't get much more than that due to my impending surgery; I don't have the available time to take off before then so ... it's suck it up buttercup.

My difficulties with re-acclimation to regular life could also be down to the incredible experiences of SoulFest. 

While my first statement about needing a break is true, I'm going with SoulFest as the reason for my desire to run back to the mountains in N.H.

To hang out with 15,000 of my closest friends and jam to some killer music and heaven-sent messages.

To be a witness to a sharing of spirit that crossed all boundaries - age, sex, color, economic status or choice of Christian religion.  A sharing that was literally a physical experience; each time I walked past someone, or smiled at someone or was bumped into by someone - I felt them share a piece of themselves as I shared a piece of myself.

The energy was off-the-hook.  It was overwhelming and uplifting and exhilirating all at the same time.  Even now, 3 days later, all I have to do is picture the day in my head and I can feel it all over again - there is a tingle that continues to stay with me.  As if every cell in my body is commiting the day to its deepest center.

There were merchandise vendors, charitable organizations, a space filled with books, multiple prayer tents, activities  and music wherever you went.

There was one activity I had read about in advance that I wanted to try.  This was an individual experience, not a group event.  The organizers had erected a gigantic wooden cross in the middle of the festival - this cross was likely the same size as the one that Christ bore thru the streets to Calvary and his crucifixion. Which was the whole point - they provided a bucket of hand-made nails and a few hammers.  As you pounded in a nail, it was suggested that you give up something - a burden, a wish, a prayer - anything.  Some people had written down prayers or poems or had pictures of loved ones who had died that they nailed to the cross.  I had no such talismans; I just prayed as I pounded, prayed for something very specific, for a burden to remain with me rather than giving it up, for the learning that was in the bearing.  As I pounded I pictured Christ hanging on the cross, in his agony taking all the burdens from all of us and releasing us from our sins.  I prayed that God would not take this particular burden from me - that is was mine to bear for as long as it takes until I can set it down ... alone.

It left me feeling very disoriented for quite a while; I just wandered around for a bit not really seeing anything in particular yet seeing everything in stark, sharp detail.

Then more music started and my soul was touched once more.  Multiple stages concurrently hosted an amazing array of Christian artists.  From folk and acoustic to mainstream rock to what we referred to as the headbanger's ball.  We tried them all - in fact more than once we wished we could become multiple people sharing the same memories so we wouldn't miss a single, blessed moment.

The music - there just aren't enough pictures, videos or words that could put into this single dimension what the multi-dimensional events were really like to be part of.  This went beyond the typical live concert - God was breathing on everyone all day long.  Thru the words, the notes, the very feeling in the air.

The bands rocked the Holy Spirit up, down and around the mountains.

And it kept the weather at bay too.  There were storms all around us for most of Saturday afternoon and into the evening yet there was never a drop of rain anywhere,not even a hint of thunder.  We watched thick, dark clouds come right to the edge of the mountains and then just - disappear.

Wherever you went there were - people.  It was a supreme crush of humanity and yet there were no incidents - no one got angry, everyone was patient, there were no fights, no yelling, no arguments.  Just 15,000 christians spending a day of renewal and rebirth in the glorious surroundings of God's creation.

Events ended at 11:00pm on Saturday night and we did not want to leave.  Oh we packed up our chairs and bags of stuff but our desire to make a hasty exit was non-existent. So we continued to wander around until we found our way to the book tent.  Then proceeded to spend another 30 minutes shopping, talking with people and even finding some folks from our own church doing the same thing as us - postponing their departure for as long as possible.

By 11:45pm we were on the shuttle bus to the parking lot and by midnight were on the road back to our hotel.  Sleep eluded us until 2:00am.

Yet on Sunday we awoke feeling tired but refreshed; ready to begin the 4 hour drive home. And since we went up with our dearest friends, we spent the drive home talking about the day.

The renewal.  The feeling of being the safest I have been in a very long time.  The sense that all 15,000 people were of one mind, one spirit, one body.  That we were all there for the same purpose - to have our spirits lifted and our souls healed. 

And I am bereft that I have to wait until next August to go again.