I spent last week in NashVegas with Arthur and Tracy Alligood at their lovely home where, to Tracy's horror, I slept on the floor (even though that's no surprise to you if you know me). If you want to talk about a vacation, this was it. Andy and I (by the way, Andy was with me) got there in good time and proceeded to play frisbee under the street light after dark. I, of course, threw it over a no-less-than-tall chain link fence and I did some cool Mission Impossible flip move to get over it, stabbing fence metal through my hand in the process. Classic. I gritted my teeth and poured alcohol over it and washed it, and life went on. We sat around with Arthur and Tracy trading out songs and jamming together late into the evening over a few Seagram's ginger ales. Evenings don't really amount to such as that on a regular basis.
We arose early in the misty morning to trek out to the inner 'burbs of Nashville. There we arrived at a cavernous Methodist church where Tess and Kyle were getting married later that day. We got to spend the entire afternoon downtown after the morning rehearsals (simply because we didn't want to drive all the way back to Whitehouse). This brings me to lunch in a pub just down from the Crazy Horse. It was a mouth-water combination of shepherd's pie with real lamb and a White Russian, which I found I like a little better watered down. We walked Broadway a bit and went to the library, where we found a treasure of paintings from the northwest province of China lining the mezzanine. From glance one I was rendered dumb. Adjectives would not suffice. Simple glances wouldn't do. They begged to be experienced. I suppose that's my desire to go to that part of the world and do missions talking, but then I have that desire about many places. Oh, you could feel the desert heat pouring oppressively from the canvases. Impulsive stormclouds brooded on the verge of explosion in one painting. The camels in the foreground tittered nervously along and grunted paranoia to one another in the resonant silence of the library. A hot breeze fought the humidity in vain. The Gobi called seductively.
We returned to the church for the ceremony, where I was surprised and humbled to worship God. We all took communion together. And while Methodists and Baptists aren't too far apart in practice, it was a blessing to take communion with people from the Church who may not necessarily celebrate Jesus' presence the way I do. We had a wonderful time playing and taking part in the ceremony, and afterwards, dancing and eating together. Gosh, they had good meatballs. I could eat Swedish meatballs all my life. Bork, bork, bork.
Andy and I went to church with Arthur and Tracy at a church that they helped plant that met at a middle school. It was good to meet people and immediately be on good terms with them. There was almost nothing for us to be proud of, since we all sat in simple school lunchroom chairs on a white tile floor, looking up onto a small stage that was little more than a concrete alcove. There was nothing ornate, nothing impressive. We were just there, meeting together and hearing what church was about. We sang and listened, and it was great! Following all this (and my attempt to get the pastor to ruin his Aztec by off-roading over a parking lot barrier), the entire church trucked out to Arthur's parents' house. I have no idea where they live, because it was October when we got there and I just followed Arthur's truck. But their place was cloistered away from the fast-paced world by tall grasses and taller trees. We all sat under the trees and ate barbecue and potato salad and drank lemonade, and I remembered something about being American. We went fishing after that in a neighbor's catfish pond. I actually caught a few (and big one's too), which is good, because I usually try way too hard when I fish, and it never works. Andy caught the Leviathan from the book of Job, and I got to nail it to a post and clean it. So, after a night of phenomenal music at 3rd and Lindsley with Andrew Bird and Over the Rhine, the Tower and I trucked home to Arthur's and arose to make catfish filets and biscuits the next morning. Tracy was brave enough to eat them with us. Arthur just said he didn't like fish (you big weenie!).
So, sufficiently en-fattened, Andy, Arthur, and I, all set off on a magical journey to the other side of the world, also known as Fall Creek Falls. The weekend was spent in a biblical study of lamenting under the humble tutelage of Michael Card and Andrew Peterson. It was good to see Andy P. again, along with his kids and Jamie. And it was wonderful to see Kenny and Doris again. I got a great chance to talk with Kenny about some issues in my life, and I was blessed to sit and talk late into the night with two other campers who were there in the park. I was reaquainted with my Lord and my God, and I pawed at the surface of knowing that that's what it's all about anyway. Oh, and by the way, I swam out under the falls. Yes it was freezing, and yes, I'd do it again in a heartbeat, although I'm sure my heart almost stopped the first time I went up to my shoulders in that water. Andy P. asked if I was gonna scream like a little girl like everyone else who'd gone it. I said I probably would, but upon entering the water, I didn't find sufficient breath to do so. But I sat under the falls. I can't begin to describe that feeling - you have to try it yourself.
So here I am. I have returned from the wilderness. Kat and I are on the homestretch of being engaged. Contrary to popular belief, we don't have cold feet. We're just ready to "DO THE THING" (as Matt Cheney says) and be married. The wedding will be fun, but the holy quiet in the car as we drive away - I can't wait to hear it. Hopefully, the wilderness will follow me around as I go. I'll see you Saturday at three.
There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for.