Archive for March 16th, 2010

Cemetery Cross at QuiltyThis past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel south to Tennessee for a day to meet some old friends (well – “old” as in from my college days, even though they are just as “old” as me), and to go with them to see my son’s musical group in concert in Greeneville.  It had been twelve or thirteen years (by my recollection) since we’d last seen one another, though we’d kept up on Facebook the past couple of years.

But it was almost like walking into a time warp.

During my three semesters at Milligan, my constant companion was Craig.  We met the first day in the dorm (he was just across the hall), loved music, and shared a number of other interests as well.   We also tended to “push” each other – in some ways good, and in some ways not.  Musically, we grew together, learning how to cooperate in the setting of a band.  We got involved in a number of practical jokes, and spent a good deal of time hiking up into the mountains, into caves, and into some intentionally dangerous situations there.

But the thing I appreciated most of all was our talks together.

Once our homework was done (and sometimes even if it wasn’t), we’d sometimes talk until three or four in the morning about most any topic under the sun.  He loved the Beatles and was a russophile (illegally owning a cat named “Trotsky”, may he rest in peace).  I loved Peter Gabriel imports, movies and fireworks (with a mortar launcher that could be operated from our rooftop).  We also had a number of demons we struggled with.

While I didn’t know what it was at the time, I struggled a lot during the winter (January – March) with depression (something I’ve written about here before) and impulsivity, which don’t mix well.  Our midnight talks certainly helped me get through this, and became some of my fondest memories of my time at Milligan.

Friday, when we met in Greeneville, I had made excellent time, which gave Craig, his wife (who I also knew from Milligan) and I some time to catch up.  One of the topics we talked about was Craig’s conversion into the Eastern Orthodox church, which I found to be incredibly interesting – both because of my relative ignorance on the EOC, and because I wondered how his journey took him there.  Along the way, we discussed all sorts of things, from canonization to orthopraxy to prayer to tradition to repentance.  Even when we might have disagreed, it didn’t matter, because our purpose was communion and encouragement, much of what it used to be.

After the concert, we went back to their house (they were gracious enough to offer me a room for the night), and sat down to talk “for a bit”.  It seemed like we’d only been talking for a few minutes when I looked down and saw the time on my iPod – 3:00 am.

My first thought was: some things never change.

Which got me to thinking.  We had talked about repentance – metanoia (Gr.) or t’shuvah (Heb.) – and how it was – visually – an image of recognizing the direction you are walking, stopping, and then turning back toward God and walking toward Him.  With repentance, it is we who change, not God, and when we turn to Him, He is still the same.  Our relationship with Him is how it was before we turned away.

Something else we talked about was prayer – prayer as something far more than a laundry list of concerns and desires, but a basic building block of our relationship with our Father.  Honestly, my prayer life sucks.  My conversation with Craig, if nothing else, revealed this to me (among some other things I’m trying to right.)  I’ve got some ideas on improving, with one of the basic ones being to just start doing it, even if it feels stilted…

So as I drove back, I thought through all of the things that God might have been trying to say to me over the weekend.

Pray.

Repent.

Love.

Spend time in each other’s presence.

All things I know, but I don’t do – or at least don’t do well.

God speaks in all sorts of ways, and sometimes the most tangible way He speaks to us is through His image in our brothers and sisters.

Shalom.

  • Share/Bookmark