If I could, I'd keep the things I most love near to me forever.
I'm a packrat, a hoarder, although not in the traditional I've-got-stuff-stashed-everywhere sense. I save up moments. Memories. The truer-than-true kind that make my nose sting and my eyes fill up with tears. Moments when God seems so scary-close that my heart breaks a little at the awareness of Him.
Yesterday, or a year ago, or half a lifetime past, with the remembering they come close again. Like yesterday, as I stretched to set a just-washed plate on the last shelf in my kitchen cabinet I can reach without a step stool. As I placed my hand on the counter top for balance I remembered the evening, two years ago, when Erin Calloway stood on the same counter and placed my unpacked plates, one by one, into my new kitchen shelves. The evening when an army of women who love God and love me, too, brought salads and themselves, and unpacked my belongings with me until the wee hours.
Erin's in Arkansas now, and I'm alone in my study tonight, but in the moment of remembering, the girls are all still here. They're near. Very near.
I spent the weekend just passed in Nashville
, with a rag-tag group of Christ followers who express their love in fleshed out ways: in word and song and food and art and God-ward thought. It was good, the weekend, but it flew by fast. Too fast. Yet as I write these words I can see their faces, hear their music, remember their laughter. And they're here. Still here.
Back in January, on a bright, cold afternoon, I hiked a trail I've hiked a dozen times or more, but this time not alone. At the top of the trail I sat on a flat rock overlooking a river with a new, strong-shouldered friend and we told our stories, or parts of them, for an hour or more. As the wind blew and the words swirled around us I wished I could make the sun stand still...make those moments last. I knew then that they were precious...and remembering them tonight is almost as good. They sped by too quickly, but they are here, now. Still here.
"The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer," wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer
. ""The believer feels no shame, as though he were still living too much in the flesh, when he yearns for the physical presence of other Christians. Man was created a body, the Son of God appeared on earth in the body, he was raised in the body...Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. Whether it be a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years, Christian community is only this; we belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ."
Jesus' life, death and resurrection mean this: If I've loved you in a moment, I love you still. If you've been with me for an hour, you're with me still. If my heart has broken at the beauty of a fleeting afternoon, that beauty's with me, still. His beautiful breaking is putting us together, forever, still.
"Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou has given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world...I have made Thy name known to them, and will make it known; that the love wherewith Thou didst love Me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:24,26, NASB)