Sunday, June 29, 2008

An Old Friend and a new Memory

When he stepped out on the porch to check in his daughter for Junior mini camp, I immediately had the feeling that we was someone I had known in my past but my mind could not think quick enough to place what part of my past I was remembering. I went on my way doing my normal check-in procedures thinking I may never figure out who he was and how we knew each other. The memory was lodged in a deep part of my mind, the place I keep people whom I have spent day in and day out with for months. Yet, I still could not place him as he stood on Holy Ground Sunday afternoon.

As luck would have it he had a better memory. As he was heading out the door, he called me by name – in a question sort of way – to confirm his own memory I suppose. He then said, “You went to Culver-Stockton College, right?” “Jim! Yea that was his name!,” I said to myself loudly and the memories began to flow back in like rushing water. We lived in the same dorm and on the same floor for a whole year together. We sat next to each other and watched tv many nights in the dorm lounge and played a game of pool together now and then. Years ago, he and I had been in the same place and became friends.

Now, he and his wife are members at Noelridge Christian Church in Cedar Rapids. Though I have been there many Sundays over the past 8 years we have never made the reconnect until that moment on the porch this Sunday.

It was all because, Sue Thompson, Youth Minister at Noelridge Christian Church, encouraged Jim and his wife Robin to send their daughter to camp at the last minute. It turns out that the image of “rushing water” is key in this story. You see, Jim’s store that he runs was flooded with over 4 feet of water and because the store is where Jim’s Daughter has formed many memories of her father, she was taking the flood very hard. Sue thought maybe by sending her to camp, to meet other friends, to experience another place and form other memories – it might just help her balance out the memories of the flood.

Sometimes it is simply by being in the same place for long enough that we develop relationships that can linger deep in our soul. My favorite word is *Propinquity because I think it is the secret to forming relationships that give us hope in life. I think *Propinquity is what makes us care about others and I believe that it is what makes us the Body of Christ.

I witness everyday moments of propinquity (and RE-propinquity) on our Holy Ground at camp but I know, as the flood and our response has taught us again, this propinquity (Body of Christ) exists far beyond the bondries of camp -- IT is what makes us the church as God intended.

*pro·pin·qui·ty n.
Proximity; nearness.
Similarity in nature.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

T-shirts, Tattoos and a Family Tradition

The dirt was piled high and the heat of the sun was making everyone gathered seek out the shade under the funeral tent. Standing next to me, gripping my hand as tight as he could was my son, Tristan. In the front row was my cousin, whom I had not seen for nearly 17 years and she was bursting with tears and wailing louder than a chainsaw without a muffler. It was her mother that we were burying today but my mother stood behind my cousin and comforted her as if she were her own daughter. The family was represented by multiple branches of the genealogical tree. Standing in my dress shirt and khakis, I felt out of place among the t-shirts and tattoos. Yet, funerals have always been something that brings the family together. I don't understand it but I still go and so does the rest of the family tree. It seems that in this moment, with my son standing next to me and other children literally playing with my aunts hair in the coffin, while the minister spoke words of hope and memory, we have passed this gathering tradition on to the next generation. Each funeral builds on the last because as the family gathers again we cannot help but remember the funeral of my brother, my sister, my cousin bubby and others whose death has triggered the family gathering. As I stand there, wondering what my son is creating in his mind with this experience I find myself looking around wondering who will trigger the next gathering. When it comes to Propinquity with God I'm not a big fan of funerals. I suppose that I should be or at least I should be used to them by now as a minster but still in the end, I'm not! I believe in God and believe that God journeys with us but I struggle with the deeper questions of why people have to die. Maybe its enough that in those funeral moments I have propinquity with my family even if I don't always feel I'm in the right place.