Well, we’ve been home a whopping three and a half weeks and tomorrow, Joel and I are off again. But while I’ll be home the following Monday, he will be settling in permanently to Seattle Pacific University. Due to some long-storied and very deep inner workings of Spirit and thought, I have decided not to attend SPU and will be writing full time instead. (Much more on that later.) But it’s a long trip up there, so I’m driving with Joel and we’re going to visit friends in Portland, catch an amazing concert with Over the Rhine and attend the debut party for Jeffrey Overstreet’s new novel, Auralia’s Colors. So, it will be a sort of gala ending to our summer.
In news from the home front, we had our first official day of autumn. I always feel that the season has changed when we light the fire for the first time, which we did today owing to a misty and glorious chill. We’ve decked the house out with candles and bunches of leaves in rust and gold tucked in among autumn fruits so that you feel a sort of harvest glow wherever you look. I’ve been pounding away on the first chapter of my current novel, finished it this weekend in time to get the family’s critique so that I can get it in shape for it’s planned proposal in three weeks time.
We had our last feast tonight with Joel, it’s sort of traditional with us to mark comings and goings with some sort of family meal. Joel invariably requests steak, for which we braved the cold and grilled out on the deck, only to have the grill die halfway through. (No good celebration is complete without at least two or three amusing mishaps.) We managed indoors and ended up round a candlelit table in the dimly lit dining room, savoring steak and potatoes and fresh feta and nut salad on our last evening together. We’re a tied-at-the-hip sort of family, all in a good way of course, and as I watched our meal tonight, sat back in my soul and observed our traditions and conversations, I knew a full-blooded love for the world we have woven. We all of us come and go, we travel and study, argue and work and love, but we do it from the center of a world of which each of us is inextricably part. There is a rich heritage of traditions, of conversations; meals shared, joys shared, griefs born together. We can never escape that world. Joel may be leaving, but he goes as an extension of us, and I think that is how it should be.
But it’s that weaving that is in part prompting some of my decisions. I see a modern world so bereft of that inner circle of solid love and shared beauty. One of the things I never thought I would learn this past summer was how rare it is to find deep relationships, to forge meaningful friendships in the bustle of our time. I have been lonely for friends most of my life and I’m am not the only one. I see people all around me longing for love, longing for the surety of that inner circle of a world for which, I believe, God created us. And I begin to think that the creation of that sort of a circle and the opening of it to the lonely hearted and forgotten of the wide world is one of the most important things I can do. This is a generation of people longing for a home; a home spiritually, relationally, and yes, physically. I may be lonely for friends, but I do have my family. I long to be family to those who don’t even have that.
So you see, I’m beginning this year with some deep hearted thoughts. They will form into more coherent ideas soon, but that’s a smidgen for now. Meanwhile, I hope to say hello from the road; perhaps you’ll get a glimpse of the vast valleys and barren peaks of the northwest. We might even stop and hike Multnomah Falls if we have time. Happy autumn to you all!