The days of September 23rd-25th that, around here, have been referred to and known as ‘The Transformational Index Weekend’ were so fraught with new and inspiring experiences, people, places, ideas, and questions that I have found it difficult to describe in words. I don’t want to discount any of the major facets of the weekend that helped to make it the awesome thing that it was so I am dividing the blog posts within which I am going to try and capture the ‘TI Weekend’.
The setting for the weekend was a quaint and cozy ‘ranch lodge’ in the heart of the utterly picturesque English countryside. The emerald green rolling hills, fluffy white sheep, lazy rivers, and the occasional stone cottage truly looked like a snap shot from a movie. I would not have been surprised if the Loch Ness monster had crawled out of the massive lake that sat slightly above our lodge – we were pretty close to Scotland after all, ol’ Loch Ness could have decided to relocate to England for the Fall. As if this lush landscape was not enough, we had a man named Christian who does not call himself a chef, but would be a serious threat to any contestant on the reality TV show ‘Iron Chef,’ preparing delicious meals for all to feast on the entire weekend. What’s more, what we all believed would be a simple hamburger cookout with a few pillows on the ground as a nice ‘chill out space’ on Saturday night turned out to be an experience described as a cross between stepping into Narnia and Camelot simultaneously. A brilliant space-transformer named Jonny took a patch of grass and a tent and created a magical evening for everyone to enjoy complete with candles, banners, a blazing fire, and his grandfather’s ‘pirates hot chocolate’ recipe. We were all dumbfounded when we walked outside to discover this scene and fully embraced it, filling our night with interesting conversations, great food, and a little bit of late night dancing.
While atmosphere and great food are important ingredients in the recipe for having a positive experience during a weekend away, we all know that the company – the people – is the most vital. The way by which the weekend’s community came together to help Christian – the chef – chop, stir, whisk, and mash in order to feed every hungry mouth three meals a day, and then scrub and scrape to get it all cleaned up and usable for the next meal was necessary in a practical sense, but encouraging in a relational sense. Most of the people who came to the ‘TI Weekend’ only knew a couple of other guests, if any, and within the first hour of arriving strangers were working together toward a common goal despite differences and unfamiliarities – a theme that is refreshing and began with the preparation of the first meal then permeated then rest of the weekend. This idea leads me to the discussion of the concept that in order to reach people on a deeper level and form real and meaningful relationships with those people, a hospitable environment and space must be facilitated first. While I have seen this concept lived out by the people of Matryoshka Haus during my experience in London in relation to myself and to others, the TI Weekend has turned out to be a very large example of and manifestation of that. Relationships were initiated and formed that weekend that would not have been without such a comfortable and relaxed setting; openness to others and the process of becoming less guarded follows being comfortable, relaxed, and content. There was a ton of hard work that went on, but there was also a lot of fun and a lot of people serving other people, and the environment that was created by all of the people who were there emulated a feeling of love. People feel loved on when they are taken care of and when something of excellence is prepared for them. That is exactly what was done during the TI weekend by everything from the food to the dish-cleaning to the extraordinary space created by Jonny. What’s more, we got to share the love of Christ with all those who attended the weekend through the hospitality described above – many of whom do not call themselves Christians. The weekend was such a neat way by which to love people with Christ’s love through hospitality and His beautiful creation, and was an amazing opportunity to initiate new friendships and networks that God will use in the future and is already using now!
More to follow in ‘TI Weekend Act II’!!