Moments ago, we arrived home after a week at Edisto Beach, SC. Edisto is the beach my mother took me to when my brothers and I were teens. It's the beach her mother took her to as well. As my cousin Leslie pointed out, my children are the fourth generation now to have enjoyed Edisto with our family and friends.
I had not been to Edisto in over 12 years. It hasn't changed a whole lot, except that there are more houses and the ratio of magnificent mansions to cute cottages has shifted. Years ago, there were a few majestic set pieces on the beach to gaze dreamily at from the warped and peeling deckboards of the humble house your group of a dozen or more had pooled their money to rent that year. This year, our modest (but absolutely sufficient) seaside shelter was dwarfed on either side by three-story beauties. We didn't mind a bit.
This week was, as one friend called it, "epic" for me. It's apt. I began planning this trip back in January while sitting on my red couch in my living room, missing the people I loved. I needed "my people," and I longed at that moment to be surrounded by them. This last year, more than any other I can remember, has come around and around again to that feeling of longing for the ones close to my heart.
My sister-in-law basically told me to "get on it"--search for a house at Edisto and do something about a reunion. So I searched and found nothing we could afford before school was expected to start back. Sadly, though some interest in participating had been drummed up among my brothers and our closest friends, it didn't look like it was going to happen. Besides, schedules are crazy, we're all so busy going here and there, working, studying, starting new jobs, traveling... how could we possibly coordinate it?
Then God did something amazing. Funny how he keeps doing that. A week after I had given up on finding a house, a few things happened all at once. First, my kids' school announced the opening days--a full week later than last year's start date. Then my dear college friend Dave called to tell me that he would be wrapping up his law school summer session more than a full week before my kids went back to school. A bell rang in my head, and I dove for the Internet.
Sure enough, one week of extra vacation was all it took. Beachfront houses both opened up in availability and dropped 30% to 50% in cost. I sent a dozen email inquiries about big, multi-bedroom houses, simultaneously texting the sis-in-law, brothers, cousin Leslie, close friends... Would this newly opened week work for you?
I wouldn't trade this week for anything. Yes, I love the beach. Yes, Edisto was special to my grandmother and my mother. It was special to me and to Leslie and to Kevin and to Patti. We have precious memories from our past that we have shared with many others over those years of going there with friends, meeting new friends, taking new friends each year. Knitting and weaving together a tapestry of fellowship around a unique and lovely place. This year was no different. A few faces were missing, yes. A few brothers who couldn't make it. Some friends I would have included if they weren't half a continent away. But the ones who did come--each has a special place in my heart and in my life and I saw some new connections being made between my family and my friends, and unfolding and embracing and incorporating that I hope will last a lifetime and even into eternity.
For that moment while we were there, we had each other. It couldn't stay, not for now. But for then, it was there. We were there for each other. There's a Youtube for that: Awake.
God's family is diverse. It is embracing. It is more encompassing than we can imagine. We are living in the "already/not yet" of the completion of his perfect family, in which those he has called according to his purpose are adopted as heirs of equal standing with the very apostles who walked the Earth with the Christ. We are united to that same Son, perfectly ingrafted into God's family. I saw a glimpse of that this week. It filled for me a longing I have for the ones I love who are spread so far and wide in this world. And it ignited even more in me the longing I have for the eternal kingdom brotherhood of God's heavenly vision. I think there is nothing more beautiful than the sincere brotherly love of those who have Christ in common--God's vision for mankind--except for the sincere, completely unmerited, gracious, self-sacrificial Love of Christ himself that makes this unity out of diversity possible in the first place.
God loved those who were NOT like himself. He joined those who were not like himself to himself by his own pleasure and power. And he knits us together into a family of brothers. Adelphoi. Forever.
|Emma with her "almost siblings" Jack and Nell.|
|Dear friend Dave with me and my cousin Leslie--remembering the days we spent cruising around Atlanta together. Lots of laughs. Lots of singing. Pure delight in friendship.|
|Bill kayaking with little Jack. We don't have a boy. Thankful our friends are willing to share a little. :)|
|"A revolving cast of characters" another friend called it. Yes. This time it was a full dinner, with Leslie, Emma, me, Jeremy, Kevin, Sumer (taking the pic), Bill, Jane, Patti (Ed joined us later), Miriam, and Jill. Then the sand-gnats arrived.|
|Jack, Cathy, and Bill enjoying a talk on the beach. I love it that my best girl friend and my husband are so close--like siblings themselves, it seems.|
|I flew kites with Dave on Bowman Field in Clemson. This week, he flew a kite with my daughters. Who could have predicted it? Dave with Emma, at Edisto. A beautiful gift of inter-generational fellowship.|