Dear Winn – 4 September 2017
I woke up thinking “I oughta dispatch a letter to Winn.” Why in the world the voice in my head chose to use the word “dispatch” I do not know, but there it is. Its actually a fine word, maybe even a good choice to use as a title if we ever publish these correspondences – Dispatches from the Middle – or something like that, the “middle” indicating that place where I believe you and I find ourselves most days, not on the right or the left, or hugging some edge, but caught in the tension of the in-between. I feel many people, in their quiet moments, find themselves there too. That reminds me of a song by old Burl Ives – “Call Me Mr. In-Between.” Good old song. Maybe our book title is Dispatches from In-Between.
Both of our collegians are back at school. After a summer of five people plus beagle trying not to step on one another, we’re back down to three people plus beagle wondering what to do with the extra space. Its a little disconcerting at first, but we’ll find our footing, sure enough. I’ve found it interesting, and we’ve been doing this college thing a few years now, that there’s always a few weeks or so after they get back to school where they don’t communicate much. Oh we know they’re alive and if they need something they’ll ask, but other than brief “I’m good” type messages, they sorta go dark. It makes sense though, after being back under our roof for a few months with all the family dynamics at play, they’ve got to re-find their footing as well. And I believe, sure enough, they will.
I’ve found myself with some exhaustion lately. God’s people just wear me out (HA). I’ve heard plenty of “by their fruits you shall know them” type messages, but not many “for in the way you judge others, you will be judged.” Its been around since the world started turnin’, but the call-out/accountability stuff feels at a fevered pitch. We gotta lotta so-called prophets right now. So-called prophets wear me out. I find many, if not most, to rather be provocateurs.
I’ve been re-reading Annie Dillard’s For The Time Being. Annie’s just so curious, about clouds and sand and bird-headed dwarfs and Teilhard de Chardin and the ways of God. At one point she writes, “I don’t know beans about God.” That’s easily one of the truest sentences I’ve ever read. I can see her saying that, standing there smoking a cigarette, looking up, entranced by a skein of geese. I’d pay good money for a few more like Annie, and a few less so-called prophets.
You’re about to enjoy another autumn in your cottage. I sure hope you and your beautiful family are finding your footing on those floors atop that plot of ground where you’ve staked your claim. And your new book releases in October – man, I’m excited! Plus, in several weeks I hope to be in the same room with you, hearing the goodness of your laugh. Yes, as Mama Cass sang, “the good times are comin’/they’ll be comin’ real soon.” So we press on, my friend…in hope…from the in-between.
There’s much extraordinary in these everyday sorta letters. Thanks for trusting those who read along with the time and effort and heart and clarity you put into each sentence.
Thank you, Darlene!
Hi John. I’ve been enjoying and appreciating your reflections for some years now and I thought it was about time I told you how helpful and relevant and encouraging they are for this aging but generally energetic Australian pastor. I do value being given glimpses of your journey and daring to discern some parallels to my own. Thanks.
I’m glad you took a minute to write, David. Thanks for your words…I’m doing a little of that aging myself:)