Last night we hosted our building’s bi-weekly “dessert night.” The girls helped me make apple pie chex mix and peanut/sun butter cookies, and I made gingerbread and whipped cream, and Carl helped me cut up honeydew and cantaloupe. I even persuaded the kids to clean their room spick-and-span in case any kids came along. At first, we thought all our efforts would be in vain – nobody showed up for the first half hour! Then two of our neighbors dropped by, and we settled in for a nice cozy chat with them about their little baby, who is four months old and about as high needs as Joy was at that age. Then two more, and then they kept trickling in, and by the end of the night we had a raucous (well, relatively raucous) crowd. It proved to be one of those lovely times that make me glad we’re here. Nothing particularly special, just friendship and community acted out so naturally. Something we thought would never happen for our first two years here!
They made the girls feel a part of things, asking them about their day and helping them make silly sentences with our fridge poetry. One of our RLC’s told me at our weekly ladies’ tea this past week that it is really important to her that our girls know and trust them, and feel safe, secured, and loved here. Which, of course, made me choke up. Our kids will never know what it is like to be part of a huge family, with aunts and uncles and cousins all woven into their everyday lives, but this is a pretty fair substitute.
When they finally tore themselves away last night, one of them mourned that she didn’t want to go because “you guys laugh at our jokes! You think we’re funny!” I didn’t tell her that oftentimes we are laughing more out of delight than humor, that we’re just so fond of them all and pleased to have them as part of our lives the laughter just bubbles out. Of course, sometimes we laugh because they are funny – the random question to the two guys with mustaches, “Do you guys ever get snot dripping into your mustache and then freezing when it’s cold outside?” was certainly enough to make both of us explode with laughter on the spot.
Some of them are graduating this spring, which makes all of our get-togethers now even more poignant. And yet in some ways better, as the knowledge that this time is transient forces us to stretch beyond our comfort zones, reach out more than we necessarily feel like, plan things like dessert nights and teas even when they aren’t convenient. And really, isn’t that how all life ought to be lived? Our time here at seminary really is proving to be a microcosm of life’s journey in general.