Meet Shelley and Jake. Good looking young people, right? But, oh, they were so much more than a photo op. Let me tell you a story…
We are more than half-way thru the Great Southern Wing and a Prayer Tour and a single most familiar line from literature sums up my thoughts on this most unique experience, a trip that has truly taken on a life of it’s own. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”
I hope that admission doesn’t surprise you. It shouldn’t. Not if you’re still doing the human thing with me. All is well between me and my traveling buddy, but the road has been long, the miles many, and this traveler misses home. During the first leg of the tour one of my favorite cousins went to meet her Jesus face to face. I’m talking favorite cuzin, you know, the one you played with as a child, the one you hid in the closet with and ate stolen Thanksgiving turkey before anyone was called to the table—that one. I was one of only two first cousins that weren’t able to make the funeral. Miles away I could see them in my minds eye and hear them in my heart, reliving old times and holding onto each other while I grieved from a distance. It wasn’t pretty. River kindly gave me space, physical and emotional space and I thank her for that.
Let me stop before you misunderstand and reiterate that there has been much joy in the journey. The good has been great! As the days rolled on I have laughed and cried with equal abandon. Months will pass before I come close to processing a fraction of what I’ve seen and heard. We’ve celebrated, talked, ate, cried, ate, muttered, mumbled, sang, ate, praised, grumbled, and did I say ate? And of course, we’ve stacked stories on top of stories, ours and those we’ve met along the way. I’ve met people I will carry in my heart as long as the Good Lord lets me walk this earth, and that, dear ones, brings me back to Shelley and Jake.
I walked into a coffee bar yesterday morning in Homewood, AL. It was a fall down gorgeous day, it was, but if you’ll let me be honest, I was feeling the onset of a “I Must Go Home and Never Leave Again” mood as I pulled my bottom and my rolly tech bag behind me, determined to edit some footage while River tended to a multitude of other things. With a Caramel Macchiato in one hand, (I’d like to thank God for Caramel Macchiatos as He does say that every good gift comes from above), and checking the bberry with the other hand, searching for fresh pictures of the Baby Czars, I parked at a table and began the “unpacking of the bag” for a long work session.
That’s when they caught my eye. The two of them, with their Bible open and their notebook, poring over a Beth Moore study. Of course we struck up a conversation. Of course we talked about our Lord—about how, if you want your life and His you’ll never know His sweetness this side of heaven, but that if you abandon all you’ll find Him nearer than you could ever dream of or imagine. They even allowed me to take a little video footage of them which I will edit asap, really, and throw it up here shortly.
Did I mention that her name was Shelley and she reminded me of both my daughter, Jessica Ann and my daughter-in-law Carey? And what about the fact that his name was Jake—the name of my other “son”, my BFF’s boy, Rhonda Perry’s firstborn, AKA the Madness Czar? The work session took a backseat as those two sweet young people ministered to this tired traveler. And right there, right there in that coffee shop, we bowed our heads and prayed together. I may never see Jake or Shelley again this side of heaven, but I will definitely see them again. And I look forward to that day.