Leaving and Returning: Day 24 / by Jeff Tacklind

I’m writing from the Seahawks 12 Club at Seatac Airport.  Similar to the unwinding that occurs on the front end of this trip, there is also a process of reengagement on the back end.  As cell reception improves on the ferry ride home my phone begins to ding incessantly.  It is the consistent dinging of emails arriving in my inbox.  Each one a reminder that time never stops, that life continues on, and that it is on me to get caught back up. 

There is always a bit of sadness at the end of this trip.  A dull sort of low grade depression that comes from having to say goodbye to dear friends and a beloved setting of belonging.  But some of the feeling is just simply the other side of all this mental stimulation.  As much as I love to occupy this space of intellectual interaction, it also wears me out.  My intellection side loves it, but my introvertedness longs to sit quietly at this table, plug in my headphones, and contemplate.

There were some really good moments for me this weekend.  Some of the subjects we discussed were interesting and fascinating and other times terrifying.  Questions of technology, culture shifts, and statistics difficult to interpret.  We live in a time of unprecedented change.  It is impossible to get ahead of it.  It reminded me of my friend Don, who works for Disney, telling me that they got rid of Tomorrowland because by the time they had finished building anything it was outdated.  Who can possibly keep up with it all?

I learned a new word this week that feels like it has particular significance to me.  The word is terroir and it means “the characteristic taste and flavor imparted to a wine by the environment in which it is produced.”  You can always count on Len Sweet for new and marvelous words to unpack.  The terroir of the wine is the taste of the soil in which the grapes were grown.  And a sensitive enough nose and tongue can identify the location a wine was grown purely from the taste of the terroir, the taste of the soil.

Len encourages pastors to lead churches that taste like the soil in which they are planted.  That instead of chasing trends and changes and trying to stay ahead of the curve, good leadership sinks its roots deeply in the culture of its present environment.  The fruit of your ministry should have terroir. 

Which makes me smile.  Because I truly love where I live.  And I feel like the church where I serve has so much terroir!  Little Church by the Sea is such a Laguna Beach church.  It is laidback and relaxed.  It is quirky and a bit odd.  It is made up of an eccentric cast of characters.  Surfers, and artists and ex hippies.  It is diverse and opinionated, but also filled with grace.  In places it is broken and yet strives to heal and be a safe place for those that are hurting.

And as much as my mind is drawn to the broader discussion of the church, my heart is pulled back to the soil of the place that I have the honor and pleasure of serving.  And while we may never have a fully functional sound system or perfect power point timing on the slide changes, we are a reflection of what God is doing in Laguna Beach.  And we can continue to grow deep roots.

This is what reengagement feels like, like a rekindling of vision.  Like longing to return to my family.  To my tribe. Only twenty minutes left til my flight boards.  I’m so ready  to get home!