Beve and I are off on vacation tomorrow. We'll be unplugged for a week, along with Beve's childhood buddies. Buddies we both went to elementary school with. I think I might have been in the same third grade class with one of them at least. Beve, these two men and I lived in about a three-block radius in our home-town, so, even though our town isn't a very large town (especially in the summer when the university clears out), with a real Main street (back then) and we really did know just about everyone, we knew the kids on our hill best of all, the ones we went to elementary school with.
But that's not really what makes these two men Beve's oldest, closest friends. It isn't that they grew up together but that they grew up in Christ together. It isn't that they met as children, it's that in some essential ways they raised each other. You meet one, discover his wit and humor, and you've met the other two. I've often wondered why Beve is so different from his brothers in humor (though he sure can make the Finn laugh!), but it's because his brothers were quite a bit older than Beve, and with these two men, he learned a razor-sharp wit that bounced around each other, usually while they were bouncing a basketball as well.
One of these men is a professor at the university where SK studies. If I'd have guessed back in high school which of these three would be the professor, he wouldn't have been my first guess. I would have imagined him in full-time ministry. But it turns out that he is in ministry. One uniquely suited for him. He gets to spend every day with eager young adults trying to figure out how to have relationships, how to communicate, how to preach the best of all news is the clearest of all language. He feels privileged to continue this work day after day after day. The other one--the one we all would have imagined a professor because of his love of study, research, history, voracious desire to learn--is in the world of business. He travels around the world for a very well-known company, manages people, works from his home. But also uses his resources to study, give back, lead Bible studies, sit on church boards, give back, give and give and give. He never forgets where he came from, who He serves. In the strange, very worldly business world in which he dwells, he could forget, but he doesn't. It hasn't changed him. My guess would be that he has impacted his corner of it more than it has changed him. Because he knows who he serves, even there. Or especially there.
So we'll spend the week with them and their equally amazing wives. Women who fit right in as though they were made for them, as obviously they were. The professor's wife is a nurturing nurse who was reared in California. And the business man's wife is a southern belle from Atlanta. But we all fit and fit well. And I can hardly wait to be with them.
We're spending the week at my family's cabin on Whidbey Island, where we'll sit and talk, take walks and talk. Wander the island and talk. Eat and talk. Well, you get the idea. But we won't be plugged into the internet, which will be a joy too. So it really will be a vacation.
Until next week, then, here are my latest quilt offerings. I say offerings, because quilting has become an entirely prayerful pursuit for me in the last few months. I read a quote from Robert Frost last night that gave voice to what I've been feeling: "It is we ourselves who are not always present." So much has pulled at me/Beve and me in the last few months that I feel like I've been living in the shallows when it comes to prayer. So the simple, repetitive motions of sewing--cutting, pinning, even ripping but especially the stitching of the machine--give me focus. Away from my worries, self-centeredness, and pre-occupations and into the presence. His presence. It's a funny thing, but I told Beve last night that I finally kind of understand the appeal of the rosary: to speak prayers over and over until one has really discarded distractions and is really focused on God, this is very good. This is what my sewing has allowed me of late. And when I am sewing for someone else (which is my practice), I find myself praying for them with every stitch. It's a sweet way back to the ministry of prayer that used to come far more easily.
So there they are: