I was already exhausted as I made my way into the brightly lit farm to table restaurant that morning.
An awkward twenty minutes early for the first interview of the day, I ordered a green smoothie and wheeled my suitcase over to a table in the corner. It was sat down before me a few short minutes later and I felt new life begin to seep into my bones as I set my phone to the side and focused on pouring nutrients down my throat. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone approaching.
Joy Eggerichs sat down before me and looked slightly disturbed at my green juice. “Is that all you’re having?” she asked, trying to politely keep the look of disgust off her face. I assured her it was not and over a banana walnut pancakes and eggs, she plied me with questions. It didn’t surprise me that her questions started with my reasons for the trip and quickly entered into relational space. Her curiosity was genuine and I saw my own reflection in it. She was asking to learn. I had found myself doing the same thing on this trip. Breakfast ended quickly and we headed across the street to Powell’s so I could as questions of her.
Her story began seven years ago with the ending of a relationship. This lead her to take four months away at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland, an intentional living community. She talked about how she had arrived late in order to avoid the “getting to know you” sessions. God apparently laughs at our plans. Shortly after arriving, she broke her leg and was laid up. This forced her to rely on her fellow community members. As they came to bring her food and visit her, she talked to them and asked them questions and they asked her questions. About…..you guessed it; relationships.
After leaving L’Abri and heading back to the states, she returned to working for her parents organization, Love and Respect, starting an arm for the younger crowd called Love and Respect Now. This was a place where millennials, whether single, married, or divorced, could ask questions and explore the topic of love and relationships. They asked and Joy answered a lotof questions. This all came together in The Illumination Project, a small group study, four years in the making which was published in 2014. She told me the answers to all the questions asked of her over the past seven years began with these three broad statements.
Live your relationships in the light
Seek older, wiser counsel
God is not trying to trick you
“This is the culmination of a dream fulfilled,” she said, “and now I’m just tired. I talked to my dad and he suggested I go on sabbatical. That’s the plan for January (of 2015). I plan to go for four months and meet with different spiritual directors and people who have mentored me and volunteer with different service organizations and see what’s out there.”
January was seven years from her time away at L’Abri.
The time had come again for rest and refocus. “There are ways to incorporate the rhythm of rest in our lives,” her voice was strong and confident as she said these words, “We have to work for it. I save my money. I prioritize stillness. I saw what came out of seven years ago and what came out of being at L’Abri. I believe something will become clear out of this time though, I don’t know what that will be.”
As she spoke about her quickly approaching sabbatical, she mentioned a Mother Teresa quote she had recently heard and said, “I realized I don’t know who the poor in spirit are around me. Social media has done so much good for connecting people in the world. I have a lot of fun with it, but how much am I missing out from engaging the poor in spirit in my community because I’m online?”
We paused for a moment to ponder this thought and discussed the different characters we had run into on social media, but found ourselves returning to this idea of rest.
“I never would have called myself a creative,”
she seemed surprised that she was saying it even then, “living in this amazing city here with all these creative people. But, I’ve realized that I am a dreamer. I am creative, just in a different sphere. If you don’t create the space, you can’t create. That’s why you need the rhythm of rest. That’s why I go to a cemetery everyday, to remind myself that it’s going to end…”
“Wait, do you mean seminary?” I asked.
“Nope, cemetery. It’s beautiful. I call it my cemetery. That sounds weird. One of my friends sent me a website of the top ten cemeteries in the world and I think it should be called ‘See Before You Die’ and I looked to see which ones I’d been to and mine was number nine. I was like, ‘crap, now people are going to start coming.”
We laughed and the conversation began to drift to other things. I couldn’t help but be in awe at the point in her story which she had reached. This was the fulfillment of one of her dreams and she was preparing for a moment of transition. Sometimes we talk so much about dreaming that we forget that as we do, we attain. After we realize, we must rest. That’s Joy. Dream. Do. Rest. The story of a dream accomplished and the search for another.