nothing can save us that is possible (part 2)

(Continued from yesterday...)

I remember crying that morning. It seemed like our future would be decided in this meeting, with little hope for a good outcome. But I so hoped for something good to come from all these years of struggle and waiting. During the opening prayer, I prayed for a miracle. As the first proposals were offered, however, it became clear that the new owners were being counseled to not let anyone from the community remain. "Nobody here should count on staying. The politics here needs to come to an end." That was unexpected and frightening. We offered a proposal also, for some of us to stay and share the land with poor Latino families in the area. I remember saying at one point, in tears again, "You may not agree, but I'm testifying here that God has saved us." Our proposal didn't get much of a hearing, though. Several people angrily challenged us for withdrawing from some of the community activities. And no one spoke up for us. It felt extremely isolating, in such a vulnerable moment. One of the people leading the meeting tried to be helpful by observing, "When the Lord said, ‘Forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing,’ I think that’s the case here." The implication was that we should be forgiven, for not knowing how we hurt the others by our choices. But I have to admit I took that comment quite differently. Upon reflection, my understanding was that people were just ready to be done, and didn't want ideas about a way to continue. We had no vote in the meeting, as we weren't members. So we went out, waited nervously, then returned to hear the decision. I kept praying for a miracle, even though our proposal seemed to have no chance at all.

It was decided that the land would be given to a nearby Christian campground. My impression was that people were not overly excited about that choice (I heard some criticizing it), but the camp had a large donor base and lots of experience managing large properties. So the decision was not surprising. But it left us confused, with little hope of staying, and no sense of direction elsewhere.

It seemed as if our choices to follow Jesus in his poverty and powerlessness had finally led us off a cliff. In the weeks that followed, I often recalled these lines from a poem by W.H. Auden:

The Pilgrim Way has led to the Abyss.
Was it to meet such grinning evidence
We left our richly odoured ignorance?
Was the triumphant answer to be this?
The Pilgrim Way has led to the Abyss...

Nothing can save us that is possible:
We who must die demand a miracle.

Then, two months after the meeting, we got a surprising message from the campground. Upon review, the board of directors had unanimously decided to not accept the offer of the land.

There was a confusing scramble over the next few days. Then another meeting. And this time it was decided to give the land to a nearby church, though they didn't have much money or experience. This was totally unexpected. I can't imagine this choice would have been made in the first meeting, but now, at this late date, with limited options... And the people accepting the land for the church happened to be friends of ours.

Over the years, we had volunteered for a variety of tasks as the need arose. Like building maintenance, small plumbing and electrical repairs, groundskeeping and gardening, even bookkeeping, learning lots of skills along the way. Now all those skills were useful to help maintain the property for the new owners. Our friends were very grateful that we could stay and help (and even offered to reduce our rent). We were encouraged to keep hosting retreats. And even affirmed for staying out of "the politics."

It seemed like a miracle. God had saved us.

Later, when I asked our son if he wanted to stay here, he nodded and smiled. "There are lots of pretty flowers here," he said.