So, few years back I used attend this one church, and once a week I would sit on the steps with my friend, Tim, and I would say, “Do you know what I would like to do?”
And I had all of these elaborate plans, see. Ideas and dreams about big festivals where faith and people and art and the church in Detroit would intersect. Art! Stories! Music! Culture! Prayer! Community! Bridges between the suburbs and the city!
Tim would listen. He always listens.
But, I am a Danielle. There are more ideas than I could reasonably do in a lifetime. And, like any human, I’m impacted by the naysayers and the things that haven’t turned out perfect before and the fear that things could go wrong.
Last year, through the grace of God, I landed a sweet gig, the kind of place where things like dreams seemed to bear fruit. That being said, I still face a bit of an uphill battle. Everything I would try would be answered with, “But in Detroit? Is it safe?” and, “Is there parking?” and “Will my daughters be safe?”
So, anyway, that was always a little disheartening. But, about twenty to thirty people would come to every event I hosted at this new gig. Twenty to thirty new faces. And I tried to be encouraged by that. But, truth to be told…sometimes I was a little discouraged.
And I still had this dream, see, of a lot of people! And multiple churches! And Detroit! And maybe with BIKES! But the reality of the situation dragged on me a little.
But it was a dream.
And sometimes I would sit in the vast, empty church and think about it, but always, always my fears would come and the reality of the apathy I’ve seen in church culture and the apprehension of people to come downtown and on and on would play over and over in my mind.
In those times, it would be hard to pray, if I’m being honest. So I would sit there, in the colored light of the saintly stained glass windows, and I would pray, “Jesus, help me to be brave.”
Just that one prayer. Over and over and over.
A few months ago, I was at mass and my pastor asked how I was doing, and I mentioned my too-simple prayer, and he said, “Pray against the spirit of fatality, Danielle, the fear that things will go wrong before you even try.”
And then he walked away. Simple as that.
But it rocked my world. And I started praying against the spirit of fatality, naming it and addressing my prayers.
And I started taking tiny steps. Because being brave often means taking steps.
I called a different church. Met with their young priest. He was hopeful, supportive. He gave me feedback, helped me hone my dream.
I took a step.
I reached out to some groups in the area–great response. It was helpful.
I called a few other churches–all of them were energetic and positive. (This stunned me).
I designed flyers, sent out promotions.
I put the word out. Slowly, surely, registrations started coming in.
A biking group called me–could they help on the day of? Of course I said, “Yeah!” People who weren’t a part of the faith-side of Detroit–just the biking culture.
And the bikers. Twenty people. Then thirty. Then…one hundred. Then two hundred. Then two hundred and twenty.
In all we were probably around 250 bikers.
And I didn’t know how it would go, you know? All those people and all those churches…and it just went really, really well. Thanks be to God. It didn’t even rain, even though it looked like rain ALL DAY long.
At the final stop we joined the young priest’s community for Vespers, a chanted prayer. And I was scared, again, that the day had been too long and that everyone was too tired…but, at that point, I was kind of like, “Jesus, I don’t know what else to do sooooo…”
But it went well.
I’ll tell you one thing: God is faithful. I was scared, but He kept things running smoothly, all day long.
So, yeah, remind me that when I’m scared again. (Which is often). (But, I’m trying).
And you can watch a vid here about the day and all the people and the lovely places and maybe it’ll remind you that sometimes our dreams are from God.
And it reminds me: dream bigger. 😉