It is not uncommon to think we know exactly who matters and exactly who will shape the course of our future, or join us as it shapes. At the ripe age of 16, there were several folks who would be those people. They filled the shop for a surprise party that I was too dumb to figure out. Those people still remain friends, and fewer remain close. At 18, we headed to Memphis in a limo and made predictions about the future; we were right on with most of them. And now, at 29, we will head again to Memphis for the last birthday of the twenties. All that we did know, and all that we didn’t know, wrapped up like a gift for the opening.
I remember my high school English teacher, Mrs. Kee telling us once in class that we would never talk to the people we were friends with in high school after we graduated. She was right in most things, crazy in many, but wrong about that. Yet knowing how she worked, and how crazy she was, maybe that was a dare, a challenge, a kind of psychological game to make us make it work.
And now, looking at the last of the twenties, it has worked. The picture above was taken laying down on Mom and Dad’s foyer rug on mine and Brooke’s 21st birthday. We will hop in a limo later this week to celebrate the 29th.
I suspect I can speak for all of us to say it’s a privilege to celebrate with old friends.
The privilege is likely greater, though, that the circle has grown. When I was laying down on the carpet back then, I would never have imagined the role those folks would play in my life, but I would have expected it. What I never would have expected, however, is the role that new friends who have entered the circle would play––how they would become crucial pieces in the story of who I am and who I am becoming.
There would have been no way to know.
Even 8 years ago, two years ago, I would not have guessed what people who crash into the circle would bring, how they would change my mind, broaden my understanding, invigorate my imagination, and strengthen my hope in the already-not yet kingdom come on earth as in heaven. From West Texas to South Africa; from a desert meal in Israel to a client in a trailer in Lexington; from the front porch on Pine Tree to the valleys of Napa; from a group of those wrestling with grief to a classroom of those disciplining hope; from cheese and toast around the kitchen counter to hors’ doeuvres on white tablecloths under candlelight, from a rocking chair in Nicaragua to a hammock on Pleasant Plains; from a limo ride over ten years ago to a limo ride today, I am now more sure than ever:
I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
+ Psalm 27:13