Some of the best moments of this summer passed without photographic record. Perhaps it's not so surprising--I'm so much "in the moment" that I don't even consider documenting it. In the absence of photos, I'm left with mental souvenirs--memories of moments of joy and affection with people who mean the world to me. Long, relaxed conversations, with the best of friends, often centered around good food. Times marked by laughter, reminisces, and a warm feeling of intimacy. And it's not that the conversation is always "light"--there may be moments of deep sharing, thoughtful discussion, and self-revelation too. It's the late nights and long afternoons, the road trip drives and meals that last till the chairs are up and they're sweeping the floor. Those times can't be captured well on camera any way, but in my mind the pictures are clearer and speak more eloquently than any physical photo. Let me share a few of my souvenirs with you:
On a perfect evening in June my high school classmate, Poupa "Jenny" Marashi, invited us to join a small gathering at her aunt and uncle's home. I hadn't seen Jenny since she was a student at the Ohio State University 18 years ago. Though she currently lives in New York City with her husband, daughter, and soon to be born son, she was back in Columbus for a few days visiting relatives and catching up with college friends. We enjoyed one of the loveliest evenings of the summer with Jenny and her family and friends. Our children hit it off, and while we didn't know most of the people when we arrived, everyone's open warmth and generous hospitality made us feel like old friends by the time we left.
More recently, I spent most of the first full week of August in Nashville, Tennessee attending the North American Division teacher's convention. I'll likely share more about that in an upcoming blog, but certainly a highlight was the precious time I spent with good friends. My best friend since we were 15, J Carlos, and I drove down and back together and were roommates at the convention. During our time together we hashed over the latest music, dissected our careers, and solved the problems of world. I also spent a nice dinner catching up with Kathy Stair, a former student missionary to Saipan who helped start the REAL Christian Theater drama ministry back in 2000-2001. And for the first time since 2007 I met up with Grant Graves, my great friend from our days on Saipan. It was if we'd seen each other just five days, rather than five years, earlier. We fell right into exceedingly rich conversation. We always go deep and I learn so much from him. He's smart, but humble and courageously honest. Grant really listens and he always has a fresh perspective and unique insight into the topic at hand. It was so great to see him again and it was a pleasure to meet his lovely wife Riley. I was touched by her warmth on our first meeting and her sincere expression of appreciation for my friendship with Grant.
The Saturday night at Jenny's and the week with J, Kathy, and Grant book-ended a special summer with loved ones, including a wonderful week in Portland, Oregon with the Carol Paez and her kids. We took our annual trek to Portland early this year as Ezra's arrival will keep our hands full at the time of our usual Thanksgiving visit. This year's trip was marked by some truly special time with the Paez family. My favorite souvenirs from our time with Carol and the kids include our first night in Oregon, when we sat on her patio eating delicious food and letting the stress of the trans-continental flight fall away. We talked until darkness fell. Later in the week, Babs, Carol, and I shared a classic late night conversation in Carol's living room, and finally on our second Friday evening, I spent some quality time with Wylie and Keisha Paez, former students of mine, now all grown up, reminiscing around the big kitchen island.
|Best friends. I was so happy that Babs and Carol had so much time to spend together on our visit.|
|Our boy was asking for Keisha all week long and was so thrilled when she finally arrived Friday evening, July 20, 2012|
|"Big Sister" and "Little Feller" making a cake together on a lazy vacation afternoon|
Another keepsake of our visit a great evening with another friend from Saipan, Judith Edwards, and her husband Evan. We had a delicious dinner at a Lebanese restaurant in Portland followed by gelato at a shop a few doors down from the restaurant. It was great to see Judith again and a genuine pleasure to get know Evan.
|With Judith and Evan Schneider, Wednesday evening, July 18, 2012.|
Finally, there was a serendipitous afternoon with some of Barbara's dearest friends who we hadn't seen in 14 years, Clari and Darchelle Worley. It was our last day in Portland and we were at the Oregon Conference's annual camp meeting in Gladstone. We had arrived late, just in time for Elijah to catch the tail end of the children's program, and we were just getting ready to grab a golf cart shuttle to the far-flung lot where we were parked, when I looked up and saw a familiar face just ahead of us--it was Darchelle. She was there with her parents, and Clari and her family were on the way. We immediately changed our plans for the day and spent a joyful afternoon with them instead. Thankfully, with this gathering we had the presence of mind to snap a few pictures right before we parted ways, promising not to let another 14 years go by before we met again.
|I think Darchelle was singing to our son here--he loved it. Clari's second oldest son is standing on the right.|
|From left to right, Babs, the Feller, Clari's husband Doug, Clari holding her two older boys (the twins, just a couple of months old were more than we could manage for this hasty group photo), me, and Darchelle.|
|Clari with her husband Doug Sproul and one of the twins. It was great to meet Doug. He's a really cool guy and fits perfectly into the wild world of the Worleys!|
Such moments aren't possible with everyone. There must be a deep level of trust between all involved and a sense of permission to speak freely, knowing that one won't be rejected or judged, offended or offensive. There can be no worries about making an impression, showing off, or being "good enough." There is often the sense that the passage of time is of no consequence--years can go by between friends, and yet when you meet again it's as if no time at all has passed and you simply "pick up where you left off."
I'm convinced that we must treasure these moments as they happen. After all, like it or not, "life is just happening" and the chances to be in the company of the ones we love are precious. Let us make it a point to collect as many of these souvenirs as we can.
Here's to the twilight
Here's to the memories
These are my souvenirs
My mental pictures of everything
Here's to the late nights
Here's to the fire light
These are my souvenirs