Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Thirty-four miles to a blessing

I've been catching up on about, oh, three weeks of blog-reading from my blog-brothers and -sisters. It's really cool, because I find new and fascinating things - and yet it sucks, because I realize that I've missed out on some great conversations.

So this morning, I clicked on the link to Chris H.'s radio rebellion and found out that, lo & behold! He is here in the metro Chicago area - attending a worship conference up at Willow Creek Community Church. I remembered that he was gonna be here from an email conversation a month or two ago - so I fired off an email that basically said, "Hey! Can we meet face-to-face?"

Of course, by noon, I'd assumed he was tied up, and it wasn't going to happen, and gave up on the idea. But at quarter to seven, the cell-phone rang, and it was Chris. I quickly figured it would be way easier to meet him in Schaumburg (northwest of O'Hare) than to try to navigate him down here somewhere. So I hopped in the trusty Camry and raced northward to have my first "real-time, real-life" blogger encounter!

It was funny - I recognized Chris from pictures he's got on his blog - but more than that, it seemed that I just connected with him in a way few "earth people" do. We settled on dinner over at Woodfield Mall (which, contrary to Chris' posting, is the real "mothership" in those parts), put our name in for a table at the restaurant, and started in on what would be just shy of 3 hours of sacred time - good talk, plenty of laughter, and good food.

As we stood in front of the restaurant, Chris said something like this: "OK...since I'm your first 'live' blogger encounter, you gotta give me this. When (not if, but when) you write your book, you gotta give me the shot to write that little 'we were standing in front of the restaurant...' kind of forward or preface, so I can say I knew you when..." I told Chris that he was the third person to refer to writing-a-book in as many days...and that yes, if this particular elephant ever gets birthed, his clever anecdote(s) will get "a seat up front..."

We had the chance to flesh out each others' life stories - our challenges and struggles with life, with ministry, and with what it means to be faithful. I'm sure no one would be surprised if I admitted to talking way more than I listened - or that my blood sugar levels were way up in the stratosphere as a result of the desserts. In fact, the time just flew away - all of a sudden it was 11:30 PM, and I had a longish drive through the center of Chicago yet to come.

I checked the journey back to Hyde Park - thirty four miles. Just 34 miles to meet a brother I'd never met, to share stories and struggles, and be blessed in ways I could never describe. I'd have gone if the distance was twice as far - especially knowing how cool things turned out. I know this - I was blessed in powerful ways by our time together. But for now, I've GOT to get to bed.

Thanks for the gift, Chris - of dinner, of honesty, of friendship-on-sight. Thanks for being a part of my life, and letting me be a part of yours. And thanks be to God for allowing our circles to intersect!


Rodney Olsen said...

A great blogging story.

I've met a few bloggers face to face. In fact I met someone just yesterday when I interviewed them for a radio programme.

It's great being able to connect in person with some of the people that you've connected with on line.

So .... if you're ever dropping in 'down under', let me know. :)

New Life said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing. I too want to meet you sometime. Hey, I want a mnetion in your book as well!

APN said...

I share the distinct privilege of living near and interacting with two gentlemen who are bloggers on my list. I can totally relate to the connections you feel with people -- the feelings of brotherhood are almost instant, even instinctual. I have yet to have a face-to-face with a blogger that I don't live near, but if the meeting/connection is anything like what I have with my two friends, it will be so affirming and such a blessing. Congrats on your meeting Steve.

Bar L. said...

Hey Steve, how fun for you and Christ to meet. I've met two on-line friends in person and one has become a special part of my life even though we are 1000's of miles apart.

I was sad reading what Damien said.

You owe me a story by the way...


Anonymous said...

Finally, the free wifi I'm (I think) stealing from the hotel is working again. You never can tell with free wifi. Anyway, Steve is a wonderful dinner date, I highly suggest meeting up if ever you are in the town of Chi.

Steve, thanks for all the sageness, saline metaphors, and (can't find another s-word...well, I can, but...) great company. Thanks for the 34 miles.