Today our church had a combination Thanksgiving/farewell potluck. Now there’s a bulletin blooper for you: “Join us for a Thanksgiving potluck as we give thanks and say farewell to our pastors” or something like that. I guess you can’t force a blooper.
We had a nice lunch, had a bit of a program and then many people said goodbye to Randall and Lauralea. They’re still around for a bit, but this was the official goodbye as a church body.
I’m generally a non-crying person, but there are four circumstances in which I’m guaranteed to get choked up and weepy-eyed:
- A normally non-weepy person gets choked up.
- When I’m really angry (doesn’t happen often).
- When I’m trying to speak from the heart.
- At the end of a movie about a couple dogs and a cat who travel a thousand miles to find their owners.
Today’s circumstance was #3. Opportunity was given today at the potluck for people to stand and tell a story or share something about Randall and Lauralea. I felt like I had better say something, so I stood up and hoarsely fought my way through a quick something or other.
I still remember the day I met Randall face to face. It was just over 4 years ago (July 2004). I had been reading his blog (found via Leighton, via Paul, via Nate—Paul and Nate are no longer blogging) for a couple of months and one Sunday I decided to stop in at Randall’s church (Gateway Covenant Church) for something different (I blogged about it here). One of the first things he said to me when we met was, “We should get together for coffee sometime.” He barely knew me, but that’s the kind of guy Randall is. The rest is history.
We had lunch a couple of times over the next year. In the spring of 2005 Dixie and I were in a period of transition and we attended Gateway Covenant Church several times. In the autumn of that year we were invited to join their weekly small-group meeting and we started attending the church regularly. Somewhere in there Randall suggested we get together regularly. A couple of years of weekly breakfast at A&W ensued—talking, laughing, listening. In January 2007 we became members of the church.
In February or March of this year, after a weekend trip with the church youth, Randall was one of a couple of people to name things that needed naming. In April, Randall asked me to preach on a Sunday when he was going to be out of town. He had actually mentioned (as I recall) the possibility of me preaching a year earlier, but the time probably wasn’t right. I’ve preached thrice since then (and will be again this coming Sunday). And now I’m going to be working at the church for a bit. And I’m enrolled in a seminary course.
Now, I’m not suggesting that all of these things are linked or that I couldn’t have come to the place I’m at by another route—and I’m not suggesting that Randall is “responsible” for all of this or that he has been a means to an end. But I will say this: Randall’s friendship and guidance has had, I think, a subtle, but profound effect on my life (and Dixie’s life as well) and he has been able to see things in me long before I see them myself (and he had the patience to wait for them to surface). I like to think that God has brought Randall and Lauralea into our life (or us into their life?) for whatever purpose he has in store for all of us. That’s pretty vague, I know, but I’m generally reluctant to make that kind of statement, and things aren’t clear yet, though we seem to be on a course (“sometimes the best map will not guide you/ You can’t see what’s ’round the bend” – Bruce Cockburn*).
The friendship was meant to be, I think, and it shall continue to be, I hope.
Thanks Randall and Lauralea for listening and caring; for your patience; for your insights; and mostly for your love and friendship. You will be missed.
Oh, I guess I also get weepy-eyed over this sort of thing (#5).**
*there’s an appropriate Cockburn quote for every situation.
**Apologies for the non-locals for some of these sappy posts of late. Perhaps these things are better sent in emails and letters, I don’t know. But I write here and I write what I live.