by Steve Sullivan
chaplain at Central Arkansas VA
Director of the VA/Clergy Partnership for Rural Veterans
The faces were familiar, the setting was not. After wandering my way through the Brickhouse Grill in Hot Springs, I had arrived at a long table filled with laughter. It was not an “upper room” per se, but the table was filled with about a dozen CBF Arkansas disciples. I’m used to seeing most of these people; either in my hospital setting or a previous one. A few I have run into at the CBFAR office or at a Coordinating Council meeting. But never before had we gathered together like this for such a simple mission: do something fun together. The CBF Arkansas Chaplain group had planned this evening to kick off the holidays and have a good time. We had tried to pull this off before, but busy ministry schedules, or an unexpected ice storm, always seemed to push it to the backburner of our agendas.
Now we had finally pulled it off. We were gathered around the table, most of us chaplains with a spouse, a friend, a kid, and even a grandkid thrown in for good measure. The mood was light, especially when Ray delivered some holiday cheer. Soon we would all make our way over to Garvan Gardens and their amazing holiday light show. If you’ve never done this, you better. It seems like a zillion acres of electric winter wonderland bliss. Yuletide music fills the air, and free cocoa fills the cup as you wander the nocturnal botanical gardens covered in lights. There’s so much to see that it’s easy to get lost out there. Unfortunately, many of us got lost just trying to get out there! But that just contributed to the mission of having fun together. When the night was over, the mission was accomplished. We all reconnected in a simple, agenda-free gathering, and kicked off the holiday season together. I’m thankful for CBF of Arkansas fostering a space for us as chaplains and ministers to be ourselves, and I’m thankful for my CBF friends for getting in the car, driving to Hot Springs, and making it happen.