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I remember when…

July 12, 2008

I added a new tag to this blog. I’m on sabbatical right now and its not going as planned. Actually that is not true. It was not planned therefore it is not going. Chicken or the egg? Either way that is putting the cart before the horse. The horse in this case is my desire (need?) to get in touch with the stories of my life so I can chart a renewed course forward for the years ahead. Not that I’m assuming I’ll have years ahead by any means as the this first story will demonstrate. I’ve learned the truth that life is a vapor and more fragile than I like to believe.

I remember preparing the Brownhouse where I live. Jody and I were getting the room ready for a little gathering I threw together called at the time “The Young Leaders Round Table.” It was an attempt to get together with some of the people I was starting to connect with online and had met individually but only briefly. I had the desire for more face time and for them to meet each other so we invited and a roomful of guys that would eventually become my closest allies assembled in my family room. If the veil could be peeled back I sometimes wonder if we would see knights sitting around sharing war stories and dreams of new lands calling for exploration. On the outside it was just a bunch of guys awkwardly trying to get to know each other while eating chips on my couch and thrift store chairs. And yes, there were only guys except for Jody who made a few appearances as hostess. We were not trying to be gender inclusive. That would come later and not easily. That’s another story and it has been told already in the world of blog though i reserve the right to tell my version of it at some point.

So there we were, circled up in the living room. Alan, the big guy from Kentucky who could impersonate with precision. Peter the cheeky Anglican easy to love immediately. Palmer the gangly, brilliant guy from Columbus. Chad the quiet, reservoir tank of wisdom. Tom Plank the athletic, vibrant bright light. Tawd Bell the rough edged prophet with a tender heart.  And me. The convener and instigator of budding friendships.

None could even dream that in a few short years 2 of our number would be dead, dying just 10 days apart.

Thankfully we couldn’t know so we were free to dream and roam around in these new friendships.

What were we dreaming? New ways of being church, certainly. New ways of being Christian too and ‘pastors’ too. We were all trying to start something at the time: a church, a network of churches, an order…. we didn’t have language at this point only hunches and hopes, dreams and desires. But it was going to be different. Somehow we all wanted to do something unique but rooted in the ancient ways. We were jazz theologians (mostly hacks at the time but trying) riffing off the ancient while charting a course through post-everything.

In retrospect a couple things become abundantly clear. The home is a powerful place for connection. Things can go deep, fast and alter the course of ones life. That was true for me and for most in that room if not all. Those friendships and the communities that sprang from those stories/dreams have all withstood the test of time. Some more weathered than others. Some deeper than others. But we had found allies. We had broken bread together and without saying a word, covenant started growing in this fertile soil. Though I forget, I should never underestimate the power of bringing a few friends together for conversation.

Secondly, the strength of a network of friends is not be minimized. Others would soon take note of these loosely held, fragile but deeply meaningful friendships. CMA and the Organic church. Allelon. Leaders/Speakers/Writers in the emerging/Emergent world. We would go to conferences in smaller clusters and people would talk about this undefinable but real thing that was happening in the mid-west… I for one was startled and even a bit perplexed by the attention but so so so thankful for these allies as we al headed into uncharted waters…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2008 4:01 pm

    Amen. Amen. Miss you, friend.

  2. July 12, 2008 5:46 pm

    Oh my, how I remember that weekend. It does seem clouded in mist. I am so thankful for the friendships that sprang from that little patch of ground. It makes me sad to remember in a way because I feel, sometimes, that they have faded. Maybe I have faded, I don’t know. I love you my brother. Thanks for writing this today.

  3. July 13, 2008 2:58 am

    I wonder if God is bring others together as well. in yall’s lives? once the continue to carry the torch and bring the kingdom here as it is in heaven. miss ya man. oh and there are several others out there that should would love to have yalls leadership as they attemp to follow in yall’s footsteps. 🙂

    love ya man.

  4. July 13, 2008 7:24 pm

    I heartily second what D.G. said.

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