If I drank coffee…

…which I don’t, because I don’t like the taste…but if I drank coffee, and if we weren’t scattered over thousands of miles, we could sit down together in a corner of Chapters, connecting in the warm hubbub of a coffee shop, and we could talk. You might ask,

So, what happened to your blog? I notice it’s sort of…lost its depth?

And if we really were at Chapters and I really did like coffee, I would slowly take a sip of my double shot mocha, place it down on the table, trace my finger around the rim of the cup, and faintly smile. I’d sigh and respond,

I don’t really know. It just got so…complex. So wonderfully varied. Such diverse people with such different perspectives, new friendships I love. But it sort of gave me stage fright. Sort of paralyzed me. It began as a vent for pent up wonderings, and what I wanted at first was just a place to get them out. But then people started noticing, and I loved it, and then I wanted to write REALLY GOOD stuff, better and better, and then I got afraid, and then I stopped. I feel like I’ve broken through and have started posting again, but it’s only been about baseball and American Idol, not about stuff that’s really consequential.

And you might smile back, and try and relieve the pressure of performance. You might look over the top of your mug with a twinkle in your eye, and say,

Well, just relax. Maybe if we just talk the old openness will come back…How was camping last week?

Really fun! Very relaxing. I’ve never caught so many fish so easily in my life. The kids had a great time together with old friends. We played games, we sat, we rested, the weather was better than we’ve ever had.

You might take the risk to push me deeper.

No, really. What did you catch yourself thinking, deep in there, in the time you had to let down and relax?

Honestly, I thought a lot about the gift of rootedness, for myself, and even more for my kids. I come from a pretty small extended family that doesn’t really have stories and history about itself. We moved fairly frequently, and while my parents had friendships they maintained over the time I was growing up, the friends my brother and I had would change as we moved.

But now, we have the two families that we’ve camped with every year since 1991 (well, we missed 1999, but close enough). I created a picture and memory book of each trip, and last week got to look over it with the kids, the ones who didn’t even exist when we started camping. We have a place that we’ve returned to seven times over 11 years, a place with memories for all of us.

It’s where we had a harrowing 20 minute drive to our first hospital visit for our 2 year old first born when she fell out of the trailer and smashed her face. I know the spot where I sat on a hammock with my five month old second born, gazing in awe at the fact that Elaine and I had taken part in the creation of another incredibly different and unique human being. Two of my kids caught their first fish here.

I know the exact riffle where I lost a 20+ inch rainbow. The huge pool where I caught a 21 inch bull trout is now totally gone, because the whole waterfall has moved, completely moved, 30 feet upstream. Time has passed, and the world changes. I’m getting old enough to realize it, and that creek has become a picture of it: familiar, yet ever changing.

You smile.

And what’s happened this week?

I officiated at the funeral of a 96 year old saint on Monday. It’s become an amazing gift to participate in these sacred times of remembering, these times that put into perspective what is really lasting in life. At one point, his brother-in-law was reading from the bible. He said, almost as an aside, that this man was not one to mark his bible, so he had to make his own choices about which passages to read.

And I realized I don’t mark my bibles much either. How would my kids or anyone know what parts of the bible are life verses for me? I think I’d like to blog about that, a sort of series on the verses that really mean something to me and why.

I want all of who I am to reflect the things that are important, truly lasting and important. I want to live in such a way that people see the mark of God, the tracings of Jesus on my life.

And what are you looking at up ahead?

India. It’s consuming a lot of my thoughts, with much preparation still to be done for me and Hayley. (Not consuming enough to make me remember to take her to her scheduled doctor’s appointment today, though. Why is it that doctors can make you wait 45 minutes or an hour without an apology, but if you’re 10 minutes late, you lose your appointment?)

I’m realizing that I am finally going to put feet to values and beliefs I have had for a long time. I am finally going to live out and express what I believe to the core of my personhood, that every human being on the planet has dignity and value and worth, and that to follow the Creator of everything means to offer ourselves for our brothers and sisters who live in pain and injustice, wherever they are. I’m realizing that I have the scary opportunity to walk vulnerably with my daughter into sights and sounds and smells and a society that may scare her spitless, but that also may set the course of her life toward battling injustice in the world. I’m realizing that my world and boundaries are going to be stretched beyond comfort. I’m realizing that I long for and dream of and hope for a time when our community at Newberg Friends will partner with God and people he loves in another part of the world, and we will mutually change and shape each other for the better.

You smirk and stand to leave.

I think you may have returned to your old blog-self.

7 thoughts on “If I drank coffee…

  1. ooh. ok, this is the superficial piece to take away from this, maybe, but I have just strengthened my resolve to return the bible I borrowed from an ex-boyfriend in college. Yes, that was 20 years ago, but it was his first study bible, I believe, and he is a man to mark his bibles, and he’s now a philosophy of religion professor, and I think he’d like to have it back just to see where he marked it when he was an undergrad. And I meant to do it before we moved, but I didn’t. It’s not too late.


  2. Gregg,

    I like coffee. And I liked this entry.

    I’m so proud of you and Hayley for your upcoming trip. May you go in peace and secure in God’s love. Here’s one of my “life verses” that speaks to your upcoming trip, in my mind.

    — Chris M.

    Isaiah 58: 6-8:

    6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
    to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
    to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?

    7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
    when you see the naked, to clothe him,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

    8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
    then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

    9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.


  3. maybe we could just underline all the parts of the bible that we read. i think the camping and other things when you are being your children’s dad are what the children remember most because that is shared time with them. i admit there is always some overlapping with family and job. people do not usually separate themselves completely from what they do for a living. even doctors almost always put Dr. in front of their name or MD after, it seems, no matter what they are doing. i have been without a paying job for many years now…and when i am asked what i do, it is like they are asking me who i am, and it is hard to give just one label of who i am. however, no matter what i do, i hope that God is working in me and through me because my desire to belong to Him. plan for the future, and live in the moment…with God. and i like all your posts. your friend, nancy


  4. Traveling mercies, friend: you and the team are in my thoughts.

    You know, we could actually go to Chapters and not have coffee in person . . . maybe in the Fall. 🙂


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