Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Hotel Disconnect

I've been home from my trip for a few days and many things are swirling in my head. My travels were divided like this:
  • Two days driving to a little town in the Missouri Ozarks
  • Eight full days (plus the days of arriving and leaving) spent with a very dear friend and the addition of another friend on some of those days
  • Three full days in Kansas City to spend in God's presence at the International House of Prayer (IHOP)
  • Two days driving back home to Winnipeg
The time I spent with my friends was perfect in every way. We spent time talking, playing games, talking some more, visiting a couple of quaint little towns, talking, shopping, playing more games and we even had a few times of comfortable silence. God is so good. I met both women online and have known one for 8 1/2 years and the other for about six. This was the third time seeing the one and the second time with the other but no one would have guessed. We are simply good friends.

It was hard to part but I was also looking forward to time at IHOP. I wanted to pray, think, read and write but for some reason I was very scattered and distracted while I was in Kansas City and it felt like I had accomplished nothing during my time there. I wondered at first if it was my access to the Internet that distracted me but the evening after I left I realized there was another cause.

On its website, IHOP names hotels nearby and some of them give a discount to those going to IHOP. I made the choice I did because that particular hotel actually mentioned IHOP on their website and I wanted to honour them for that. It didn't occur to me to check reviews made by other patrons--a mistake I won't make again. The building looks nice enough and so did my room except for three things--I needed the strength of Atlas to turn the water on in the bathroom sink, the small counter around the "kitchen" or bar sink had been severely damaged and the blow dryer was very unsafe with no grill on the business end to keep fingers away from live wires.

The first morning I forced myself to get up earlier than I felt like so I could take advantage of the breakfast advertised by the hotel. In the hallway by the elevator were empty pizza boxes, a beer bottle on the floor and more garbage strewn around. Inside the elevator was another beer bottle. Downstairs there was no breakfast! When I asked the girl at the front desk, she said they were doing some renovations in the kitchen and as a result they couldn't use the coffee pots. Odd, but I accepted it and went to the other IHOP for breakfast--the International House of Pancakes. When I returned that night, I asked about the pool and gym advertised on their website. The pool is outside and they are waiting for a shipment of new equipment in the gym so it's closed for now. When I finally went looking online for patrons' comments I discovered that it's been at least a year and a half that they haven't served breakfast or had their gym available for use. The staff have been trained to lie!

Well, I don't need a "free" breakfast, though it would have been nice and saved me money, I could do without a pool and gym, overlook the garbage in the hall and enjoy the good things about my room such as its spaciousness, the nice desk and king-sized bed (and I bought myself an inexpensive potted flower to brighten things up). But one thing did make me uneasy. This hotel has seven floors and 126 rooms/suites and once the weekend was over, there were maybe six guests in the entire place. Was it safe to be rattling around in such an empty building? It wasn't hard to find other things that were odd, such as no maid service every day, a big sign with half the lights burned out advertising the grand opening of a drinking lounge that was closed for lack of customers, and the garbage that continued to collect on the third floor hallways.

Only when I was on my way home and stayed in another hotel did I realize how stressed the peculiarities of the one in Kansas City made me. It was a plain, lower-end hotel that was everything they said they were and more. I felt at ease for the first time in several days. Who would have guessed that such a thing could matter? Not me.

My doctor and I had a good talk about that when I got home. It seems like I have a huge disconnect between my brain and the rest of me. My brain told me that the problems with the hotel weren't a big deal and that the price and location were perfect and that's what I believed while the rest of me was so tense I couldn't concentrate.

I've been giving a lot of thought to this disconnect and wondering how it came to be and what to do about it. I can see it's been present in me for a long time. Kansas City wasn't the first time. I've used my ability to think and reason to overpower my heart and emotions. There are times when this is a good thing, such as when my heart and emotions are begging me to do something I know is wrong, but when I need to be listening to what my inner self is saying it's not so good for my reasoning brain to drown it out so I cannot hear.

Since I'm just now coming to realize this handicap in me, I will be praying and watching for solutions. One that has come to me is to spend time with God in some of the spiritual disciplines that don't require a lot of reasoning and brain power like contemplative prayer, meditation and silence. Jesus said that unless we become like little children, we will have no part in the kingdom of heaven. Little kids haven't overdeveloped their brains and reasoning power to the detriment of the rest of them. They are big in simplicity and trust. That's what I need.

God, I've depended on my thinking and reasoning abilities for much in my life, leaving little room for simplicity and trust. To the extent that I have done this, I have excluded you. How wrong I've been! You speak to me through more than my reasoning and cognitive abilities but also through my inner heart, that part of me I can't hear so well. Please change me. Help me establish balance within. Thank you!

Note: I am not saying that reasoning and using our brains is a bad thing. God gave us brains for a reason but being disconnected from the rest of ourselves is not good. God made us to be integral, all parts of us working together as a whole.

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