Most people who know us know that Staffan and I met while working at Kirkwood Camp in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. If you haven’t heard it, the story is equal parts funny and sweet – and long, so we’ll save that for another time.
The summers we spent at Kirkwood were and are an important part of our story, and naturally so are all the people we shared them with. Even though we don’t keep in regular contact with most of them, we always like to think of these as the forever kind of relationships. This fall, we got an opportunity to test the reality of that and we had a wonderful (extra) long weekend as a result!
Last year, as we started our travels, our old camp friend Steve left a Facebook comment that if our paths ever led us to the vicinity of Trenton, Missouri we should let him know. At the time they didn’t, but then as we made our plans to cross the country this fall, we realized that we would be in that area. We had a decision to make. We haven’t spent time with Steve for about 20 years. It was a small detour off of our planned route to stop in Trenton. The offer to visit was several months old, and what if he was only being polite to begin with? (Side note: We love visiting people along the way as we travel. Please don’t offer us to visit you unless you mean it, because we may just take you up on the offer!) We decided to take him at his word and honor ours, since we had responded to the initial message that we would let him know if we were ever in the area. What could it hurt to send a Facebook message and see if the offer still stands? I’m so glad that we did!
Twenty is a lot of years to catch up on! We were all so young and single when we were last together, new to ministry and really adulthood in general. Now both Staffan and Steve are ordained pastors, we have 7 kids between our two families, and those camp counselor days seem a very long time ago. And yet, the foundation of a shared faith and common experiences that shaped us as young adults is a sturdy one that can stand the test of decades.
We had never met Steve’s wife, Andrea, and obviously none of our kids had ever met. How bravely hospitable of Andrea to welcome us to park our home in her yard without ever having met us before. What a relief (on both sides I’m sure!) to spend that first afternoon getting to know one another and to discover that we get along really well!
An even greater relief and joy was to see how well our kids got along with each other. Their youngest two are about the same ages as our oldest two, and they quickly paired off and all but disappeared for the whole weekend. Fellow parents understand how much easier it is to be friends with other parents when the kids get along well, and alternatively how hard it is to spend time together if the kids don’t get along, no matter how much the parents enjoy each other’s company. In this case, the kids connected in minutes, and 5 days later we had to pry them apart when it was time to leave.
World Communion Sunday
Perhaps the greatest “coincidence” in our whole visit was the timing. During the summer, when we estimated the dates when we would be in the area, Steve pointed out that our visit would most likely coincide with World Communion Sunday. This is a Sunday when Christians around the globe, regardless of their different traditions, have agreed to celebrate communion in a spirit of unity. What better way to model this unity than for two pastors from two different backgrounds, denominations and countries to officiate and serve communion together as brothers? Staffan dusted off his shirt and collar and Hodge Presbyterian Church celebrated World Communion Sunday in this beautiful spirit of unity.
That evening was the church picnic and more chances to get to know some of the members of the congregation Steve leads. It was also fun to see him in that role, recognizing that so many of the qualities that made him a great camp counselor are now what make him a great pastor.
Sitting around a campfire in Steve and Andrea’s yard, it was as if no time had passed, and yet all around us were reminders of how long it has been. Catching up with old friends is good for the soul and reminiscing together about beautiful memories is like medicine. We were extended such indescribably amazing hospitality and words seem insufficient to express our gratitude. Thank you so much Steve and Andrea and family! And watch out Trenton, Missouri! We’ll definitely be back!
Posted in Explore and tagged Kirkwood, reconnecting, World Communion Sunday by Christine with 2 comments.