Last weekend, I put nearly 1,000 miles on my car. On Friday, I was invited to the transfer of property ceremony of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe in Standish, Michigan. And on Sunday, I went to St. Clair to celebrate a friend’s 90th birthday.
Because I have never been to Standish before, I mapped out Friday’s trip, before I left home. After traveling up US – 131, I exited onto M-10 and after some twists and turns on back roads, going on US-127, then onto M-61, I arrived at the Tribal Center. It was an interesting way to arrive in Standish.
On the way back, I thought I’d just reverse my course. Instead, Siri took me another way. Down M-13, to merge onto I-75, I passed the Midland, M-10 exit and a chance to head west sooner. Across the Zilwaukee Bridge, one of my least favorite places to go, and then onto I-69. After passing Lansing, I was back on I-96 and headed to Grand Rapids. Surprisingly, the different routes took about the same amount of time, and were the same mileage.
Once I left US – 131, I was in new territory. I had never been on M-10 past Midland before. I passed a few small towns that I had only seen on a map. I even saw a sign for a United Methodist Church as I went through Gladwin, I think. When I arrived at the Tribal Center there were people I knew. There were many more I didn’t. I still felt welcomed and was glad to be part of the ceremony.
The journey home looked unfamiliar at first. Then I passed Wilson’s Cheese Shop in Pinconning and I knew where I was. I think that was when I actually relaxed. Because I recognized that Saginaw and I -75 were just ahead, I was comfortable with the directions Siri was giving me. Past Saginaw, over the top of Flint, through Lansing and back to Grand Rapids. That wasn’t true on the road to Standish. I’ve only seen the names of cities and towns above Big Rapids a couple of times. Even though I mapped out the route on my phone, I still wasn’t confident that I would arrive at my destination.
The trip on Sunday was very different. I have driven the I–96/69 corridor more times than I can count. I didn’t even put the destination in my phone. It was the about the same mileage as the trip to Standish, and it took the same amount of time. This time, the road was familiar. I knew exactly where I was going. This trip was very different as I was looking forward to the birthday party as I drove across the state. I knew what would happen when I arrived back in St. Clair.
This Saturday, laity and clergy across the state will gather at Albion College in Goodrich Chapel for a Special Session of Annual Conference. We are coming from different directions for a Yes-No vote to bring the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation Legislation to General Conference 2020 so it might be considered by the delegates to the General Conference (May 5-15 in Minneapolis, MN). We may also be in different places spiritually as we consider what will, or won’t, happen in May at General Conference. This is not an easy time for we who are called United Methodists. We are torn, we are saddened, we are fearful, and we may even be angry about where we are today. The road ahead is not clear. Our destination is yet to be determined.
Let us pray for one another as we come together on Saturday. May we also continue to pray for one another in the weeks to come as delegates from around the world prepare to travel to General Conference. May the Lord continue to be with us during this time. And Amen.