Checking in is my favourite part of a Landings session. We always start our group sessions with a check in – it really is the only right way to begin these sessions as it helps everybody to set the right disposition to be present for each other.
I love checking in, but it was not love at first sight.
At first, it didn’t make sense to me – everybody talking about their life, their problems at home, that argument at office, that parking fine etc, which I am not interested in at all. I literally had to “hold my breath” to get through this part.
It took me a while – six years actually – to really understand and start to appreciate this practice of ‘checking in’, and now it’s something I hold dear in my heart.
So what is it really and why do I love it so much?
Checking in is a way to be aware of what is on one another’s mind or weighing on each other’s hearts, by sharing about the kind of day or week we are having, what makes us distracted or relaxed, tired or rejuvenated. It’s also a time for us to share our God moments of the week – and that helps us see God’s active presence more clearly in our lives.
It is a way for each to say: Yes, there are concerns that I have brought with me, but for the next hour or two, I shall leave them all behind, outside the door, so that my thoughts are not distracted because I want to be still; to be present to you, to acknowledge God in my life and to spend time with Him.
At least, that’s what it is for me. It’s how I dedicate myself to my time at Landings, and how I’ve witnessed others’ commitment too.
I always complete my check-in by saying, “This is Marcus, checking in” and I smile as I commit my time to God.
Now, you see, checking in is simple yet profound. Often we show up physically but are not actually present intellectually or emotionally. We may be distracted for any number of reasons. Starting with a check-in allows us the opportunity – and grace – to catch our breath and focus on the here-and-now.
“A carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farm house has just finished a rough day on the job. A flat tyre made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit and now his ancient truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence. On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family.
As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.
When opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss. Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me so I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.
‘Oh, that’s my trouble tree,’ he replied. ‘I know I can’t help having troubles on the job, but one thing for sure, troubles don’t belong at home with my wife and the children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again.’
‘Funny thing is,’ he smiled, ‘when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.'”
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It’s a small effort to make to bring a soul back to God!