Friday, September 03, 2004

Time "apart from"... and time "a part of"

Hmm...Toto, I think we are in Kansas...and it seems that there truly is "no place like home," after all.

Thanks to the power of the web, and the hospitality of the Johnson County Library, I'm able to share a bit on my journey back to Kansas. It seems strange - to be gone yet another weekend, after being gone for three extended weekends in a row - but I'm glad to be "apart from" life and challenges in Chicago, and to be "a part of" the folks who were my recovery and church family for 13 years here in Kansas.

The primary reason I'm here is to celebrate the wedding of a guy I used to sponsor in AA - but I've extended the time to get in touch with a number of folks from the fellowship, from church, and just friends from my former homestead. It's also a time to take a breath or two, to reflect and to pray, after three particularly hyperactive weeks of work and travel to Ohio.

And time to reflect on my blessings. The only reason I'm here, first of all, is because of the generosity of a friend who bought me the airline ticket, back when I was completely unemployed and completely broke. (I'm now temporarily employed, and only mostly broke.) I'm staying with one former pastor and friend, driving another friend's Bronco around town...yup, I have been blessed way beyond my ability to measure.

When I got here (Thursday noon), Norma (my friend from my days at St. Paul School of Theology) picked me up at the airport and took me to lunch. (For my LSTC friends, this is the lady who came to the Gospel Choir Gala with me.) We just laughed our...well, we laughed a lot. At one point, Norma was driving and talking on the phone, and while taking an exit off I-35 onto Johnson Drive, meandered a bit over the center line on the exit ramp, while simply muttering, "Oops..." (as I was holding my breath and praying for deliverance). From that moment on in our visit, "oops" became a code-word for "yeah, well, it MIGHT kill us, but I think we can get over it," and brought us tee-hees all afternoon. Norma and I are good for each other - mutual rays of sunshine and comic relief. (I know some of you find it hard to believe that I can be a ray of sunshine...but it does happen...)

Last night, I met my friend Mike M. at the Northeast AA group in KC MO. Now there is some old-time recovery goin' on, boys and girls! No fancy clubhouse, no elaborate meeting formats, or rituals, and none of the end-of-the-meeting-chanting or other treatment-center-inspired nonsense I see in so many meetings in Chicago. Just drunks sharing their experience, strength and hope, and the solutions they've found in the 12-step program of AA. Now, admittedly, we were "in the 'hood" in KC (around 9th & Gladstone) - to the point where Mike had to point me away from one parking lot, from which my borrowed Bronco might well have disappeared during the meeting - but it was a welcome time, nonetheless.

Then Mike and I topped off the evening with crawfish-&-andouille-sausage fettucine (just the half order was too much!), beignets (a dessert created by God and given to the Cajuns) and a live jazz-&-blues band at Jazz, a great Cajun restaurant in KC. Even more gratitude for great times, great food, and great memories.

Up at 5:30 a.m., to meet up with my men's Bible study group at 6:30 a.m. at Einstein Brothers in Lenexa. They've been working their way through several of Paul's letters, and today's topic was 2nd Timothy 3 (see it here), talking about Godlessness in the last days. (Actually, it sounds like the same God-lessness that we've seen from time immemorial - as much in Paul's day as now.) And we talked about the trap Paul mentions in verse 5 ("having a form of godliness but denying its power") and how that shows up in life - in our churches, in our government, and particularly in the recent political conventions. (That, as you might imagine, stirred up a little heat!) But the good news about this particular Bible study is that the men in it aren't afraid to ask the hard questions about how this Bible thing affects and shapes (and challenges) their lives. Whenever I get to KC, I try to get here Thursday night so I can re-connect with these brothers in Christ.

The rest of the day is going to be filled with friends, food, and celebration. Lunch with the groom-to-be, dinner with AA folks, the sobriety anniversary of two good friends (one, a former sponsee) at my home group. Then my "home group" meeting tomorrow morning, the wedding Saturday afternoon, visiting a friend playing guitar at a coffee house Saturday night, worship at my home congregation Sunday morning, lunch with more friends Sunday noon, and then back on a plane Sunday evening. Won't be gathering any moss, that's for sure - but I will be doing my best to "gather rosebuds," and spend some quiet time in between all the activity.

Thank you, God, for the gifts I have received and am about to receive from your bounty. I'll do my best to give You thanks all this day long!


Dave said...

I wish sometimes that I had your spirit. You keep going despite - whatever. I've stopped doing that. I suppose because I don't think I can handle any more "life".

It's kind of inspiring to watch you go and go and go.

Lisa P. said...

What Dave said