The News in Brief
I spent my hope on the naive impression that summer brings with it a bit of relief from the scheduled insanity. Instead, June has stubbornly retained that graceful modicum of madness that characterizes the rest of the year. I believe (let me check my gauges and meters), yep, it has even increased.
To begin with, Kat and I have been looking for a house in Knoxville, and I think we've found one. God willing, we are closing on the 28th on a grand little place that was built back in 1950. It has a gorgeous red wooden door and the original wood flooring throughout most of it. I'm hoping to add a bit of a book-nook to one of the bedrooms. It also has a covered back porch with tons of potential, and a yard with space for a vegetable garden. Throw in an original cast-iron tub with a nice porcelain coating, and you've got a winner. So, if you're ever in town in the coming years, and you're not an axe-murderer, swing by and occupy the guest room for a while. It's going to be a great deal of work, but God has gotten us this far (including unheard of amounts of money and the blessing of friends with voluntary hands to work the whole thing through), and he will take us over the dusty rock-strewn mountain trails to come. I pray that we will be a house that serves the Lord, and that serves you, dear reader. May we have the grace and the opportunities.
In addition to this, we also went down to St. Simon's Island, Georgia, to Epworth by the Sea (a Methodist camp with a gracious commitment to John Wesley's history) to help with MDA camp for this year. Camp Love, as they call it, has been a summer tradition of my wonderful wife for about nine years now (minus one, when she conceded to marrying me in lieu of going), and she finally succeeded in dragging me and my anxieties with her. Most of the staff there has been part and parcel to the camp for several years at least, and so I was a bit worried that the cronyism factor would prevent me from being as involved as I wanted to be. This, plus, of course, the normal apprehensions of being around people who are wholly different in some way. It always tends to make one nervous in some respect. I was proved wrong on both counts, however.
Apparently, Kat spent her week last year playing up the legend of me until it teetered dangerously and at perverse angles. I didn't really know this until afterward though, so I was merely myself, around children and fellow counselors, which rather tends to be the out-of-shell version of me. And the staff attitude towards new counselors operates around the fact that you're there, not your tenure. Like weddings and funerals, the work to be done bound us instantly in the appreciation of each other's presence, and didn't stand for the limits of pretentious belonging. I can't really say that I had a good time, so to speak. There is a deep, welling gratification and joy of doing work (and work it was, make no mistake), but I can't imagine myself not going back. I can't see myself missing it next year, missing the people, the looks in their eyes, the smell of their clothing, the quirky, graceless way we all take compliments (me most of all). It has become an instant tradition.
So, now we're caught up. Kat's still hovering over the Florida-Georgia state line with family and friends. She put me on a plane Thursday to fly back and continue winning bread for the family. Andy and Nathan picked me up at the Tri-Cities Airport after a pleasant flight with some folks who seemed to be believers (though we never quite came round to talking about it) and had a panic-stricken teenage girl with them who had never flown before. This appealed to my sadistic side, and I'll leave the rest to your imagination, but she is now an initiate. It was all in good fun. I stepped off the plane with my newfound friends to a brilliant rainbow plowing down out of the eastern sky, and met a dear lady named Hazel who had been dandled on the knees of local legend Cas Walker as a child, when her father had known him. The man who sat beside me, Winston, is also one of the last of the Clingmans, for whom Clingmans Dome is named. The short trip across the tarmac held a confluence of warm stories between us.
So, for the last few days, I've been carless, staying with friends and riding my bike to work when I can. Bless my dad, who has now let me borrow his truck while they're going out of town. I can't wait for my wife to get back and get settled back down again, because that'll happen.