The sky was green this morning, the air thick and warm, as I sat with Bible and coffee on my porch swing, soaking up Jesus’ words in John 15, taking to memory a few more verses from Ephesians 4. I could hear thunder rumbling in the distance, even though there’s no rain in the forecast, temps in the 90’s on this first day of fall, and this is Minnesota. It’s a little eerie, and no wonder my mind wanders to all assortment of weather all over this globe. It’s in the Bible just like this, before His Coming. Three women at Walmart yesterday afternoon discuss hurricanes and wars and the End of all things.
Jimmy and I have been learning theology together at the kitchen table. We sit close on a handcrafted bench sticky with years of use, my shorts peeling free like a post-it note when I stand up briefly to check the soup simmering on the stove. It’s the boy’s first year in regular English, and here he is reading articles like those I read for seminary assignments a few years back. Mom, can you help me figure out an Inclusivist argument against the Universal Opportunity view? And it’s no wonder I’m glued to this kitchen table until the thing is finished, and loving every minute, truth be told.
Next weekend I’ll spend four days savoring fall at a camp up north – Hackensack, Minnesota. Just the way it rolls off the tongue has me pining for pine trees and leaves turning color, a cabin to myself all weekend long. I’ll be the camp speaker for a women’s retreat, and I’ve spent every spare moment the past couple of weeks thinking and writing about what I’ll say. I’ll tell some of my stories, and talk about John, and how he wrote in his gospel of LIFE in Jesus, and what it means to live Fully Alive. And I wrote in my notes for the Saturday session about my time at the seminary, a dream come true, but how I knew from the start it wasn’t close to as good as an earlier season when God was my teacher, and I lingered with Him in my own private classroom on this same front porch.
Last week Kyle sent me a text. What were the three things in your dream? And I knew just what he meant. A few years back God asked me this question while I slept, about what I wanted, and this was my answer. Go to seminary. Write books. And enjoy my grandchildren. It was one of those dreams that seems so real you don’t forget it, and now I’m answering my husband’s text like it’s gospel, and I’m surprised when he responds and it’s what I’ve just been thinking. “So one down, two to go?” Because I did go, but I didn’t finish, even though I could have and would have, if we hadn’t met two Colombian boys who’ve become my sons. So now Kyle’s asking the same question I’ve been pondering while writing my story for the women at camp. Does been-there-and-done-that, but not-quite-finished, count as a dream fulfilled?
Most Wednesdays I work from my front-porch home office, weather-permitting. But this week it was chilly and I was practicing reading retreat talks out loud, so I was still in my bedroom when Luke woke up late and plopped down on my bed. He’s always chewing on one theological mystery or another, and now he’s applying to seminary and wondering if he’s more suited to be pastor or teacher, and he’s been staying up late FaceTime chatting with that girl he likes out in Colorado, figuring out if they’re on the same page when it comes to belief. And we cover it all while he’s sprawled out sharing space with the dog, and I press pause on whatever I’m doing and relish these moments knowing they’ll not likely last. We talk about predestination and holiness and the end of things, both of us prone to thinking hard, but embracing mystery, and at the end of the day we’ll stake our alliance on a few sacred things. I tell Luke about Jimmy’s assignments, and how he had to answer a question about overcoming sin. He’d cut and paste an answer about “reading the Bible and doing what it says.” And I’d said yeah that’s part but not all, and I guess he caught my passion as I stated my answer, because later proofreading his work, there were my own words all in capital letters: JESUS OVERCAME SIN BY HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION, AND HE GIVES US HIS SPIRIT TO DO FOR US WHAT WE CAN’T DO FOR OURSELVES.
Mom’s theology in a nutshell.
Luke makes his way to shower and work, saying, “Mom, we should do this more often.” And I know right then I’d trade all the seminary dreams in the world for this conversation and others like them. God as my teacher, and my boys as my classmates, and it doesn’t get any better than this.