Friday, August 27, 2010


I started a new job.

All week we have been learning about the organization - everything from the mission/vision/values to where they put the paperclips. We told "getting to know you" introductions followed tours of several agencies with whom we will work.

Mid-week, after introductions, orientations, tours and explanations, we knew each others' names really well. We also learned one or two more personal bits of information ("You lived in China for three years? What was that like?" or "What is it like to run a video production company?" or "How do people in Pennsylvania feel about the death penalty?" or "What radio station in Asheville plays Indie music?"). By now we had names and personality stamps forming for our teammates.

There's Ms. GermanO, Ms. China, Ms. Harley, Mr. Mom, Ms. Three-Dog-Night, Mr. Cincinatti, Ms. Katydid, Ms. Snacks-R-Us, Ms. WeekendPlan, Mr. Americorps and our fearless teamleader, Ms. WeCanDoAnything.

So, what's a team to do but go to the YMCA for team building exercises?

Really? *yawn* been there. done that. - Was the bubble over my head.

After a warm-up, I got really into one of the exercises. It really challenged our team-work. Standing in a circle, our goal was to pass the golf ball from one person to the other. On gutter-shaped PVC sliders. The kind that allow the ball to roll really quickly if one is not careful! The challenge was that only five of the ten team members had sliders - the others had to quickly grab one out of the hands of the others after the ball made it's way around. Once we developed a circle-style, our team coach challenged us to move the ball half-way down the football field, using the few sliders, and deposit the ball into an upside down caution cone.

With creativity, patience, dignity, encouragement, focus, diligence, and not a few prayers, we did it! We all had a lot of fun along the way of making our goal.

In the midst of this "game" I realized that these kind of "silly" team games are really helpful. I know for me, I got out of my head and got really into the moment. I found myself busting through the personal space of quite a few people. I heard my voice spontaneously encouraging others. I felt embarrassed when I made a mistake that let the team down. I was inspired by the creative support that I felt from my newly-met team-mates.

Now, in this quiet moment, I think that team-building exercise was a lot like keeping a spiritual practice. For example, my morning prayer routine: I need to just show up, even if I have "been there, done that" before. I remind myself that I am different now than I was "then." When I read the scripture, it touches me in a new place, kind of like those sliders. They help me get out of my head. I find myself sometimes busting through with a personal prayer in the midst of a canticle. I sometimes hear the voice of Spirit encouraging me. I try to confess to God my shortcomings and give thanks for the grace to keep going.

May my heart remain soft and my feet grounded for the work that will come in the next 10 weeks!

What kind of "sliders" do you have in this moment?

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