It started with the eyebrows. But more on that in a minute.
First off, I am sending you all love from the front porch of the Oceanic hotel on Star Island. It is a cool night finally after so much heat. I have come here with Jack, our sweet six year old. Lauren and I are having some very sweet and rare time alone with the boys this week, her with Jack on a trip to California, and me with Ben on a camping trip, our first together.
And right before these trips, a tiny little adventure with just Jack here on Star. Some fishing, Jack catching the largest cunner we have ever caught here on Star, the fish in the picture above, and whatever else he wanted to do, which just a little while ago was the game of Life. This classic board game which is fascinating because it’s a little horrifying.
From the very first move where you have to choose a career or college, the game feels drought. This first choice starts you in different places. It all seemed so stressful, somehow. Jack was unfazed, choosing a life of the trades so that he could start making money right away, he loved this. He decided I had to go to college, which seems only right as it had been my actual choice in real life, there was no option for grad school, certainly no seminary option, though there was a little plastic church which Jack joked that I should live in.
And so the game raced on. Houses were bought, children arrived, floods and insurance, pay days, raises, so much all piled into this game. But the really fascinating thing for me was the ending. The game of life ends with retirement, which is patently absurd. I had just moments before been talking to two of our new members, both freshly retired, both so excited for all that was now possible. I see so many of you so involved, both at the church and out in the world, serving with passion and poise, with wisdom and care. So I chuckled at retirement being the end.
But what was more disturbing was how you won. Jack was convinced that you just counted up your money and the one with more money won. What!?! Have we taught you nothing?!? Jack gleefully counted up his many hundred thousand dollar bills. But I am contented, I protested. I gave back to my community. I volunteered and knew my neighbors. I learned to knit and fish.
But to no avail. Jack counted and then recounted his money, exclaiming to all gathered to watch that he had won in Life.
The big point, of course, was that we had fun. We played a game that he wanted to play, by his creative and advantageously shifting rules. It was a sweet and rare moment with just the two of us.
But the real reason I write to you about it now, was that it was over so quickly.
And that is why I mention the eyebrows. I was at the barber and as she was giving my beard and hair a trim she asked,
“Would you like me to trim your eyebrows?”
And I took a deep breath. My eyebrows have had unruly moments, but never before has a professional asked if I wanted them tamed. My father in his later years had truly crazed bushy eyebrows. Only infrequently could the women in his life prevail upon him to trim them.
I arrive in this moment, in this middle moment in this life, and I am so grateful. So grateful that Lauren and I and our family get to be here with you all. To build this moment together. To have these lives and these careers and these buildings and these children and houses and projects and purpose and beauty.
As Mary Oliver says, this wild and precious life, I am so glad to get to be here with you all, as together our eyebrows get wilder and we get wiser, as we serve this world, as we change this world.
And so, good people, sweet South Church. Breathe deep, take in these sweet days, this precious time. Think of what is most important to you. Know that the question is not what will it mean to win the game of life, but how do you choose to live these precious days and hours and minutes we have. What matters most to you, deep down, and are you doing that?
So much love to you all,