A Week-End in the Life

You seldom see so lovely a string of days as we experienced over Labor Day weekend in Northern Virginia. It was my intention to enjoy each and every minute (before too long the days will be growing shorter and colder), and I certainly did.

Friday night Audrey and I joined some of our church kids and their parents for "movie night.” It was held outside in the east parking lot with everyone properly distanced, sitting in chairs that we all brought, eating snacks we each packed from home. The film was one I hadn't seen, from a classic book I had never read, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. It was great to see the families and share this fun experience together. The slight breeze across the low lot almost made it too cool for me. Almost.

We ate our meals each day on the deck, of course. I prefer to eat outside three seasons of the year, weather permitting, but there was no question during this weekend. Saturday night, we cooked barbecue ribs, corn on the cob, and better beans. Using Audrey’s new Ninja Air Fry Oven we also had potatoes. After clearing the dishes, we saw night descend around us while we played our favorite card game, Five Crowns.

Sunday morning we went to church for the two in-person worship services we are able to have now. It's different than it was before the pandemic--yes--but it still feels good to sing and pray together, and "make eyes" at each other. Each week there are folks there I haven't seen in a long while.

That night we invited a family of five to come over and eat with us, spread out on the deck. There was pizza--as the children had requested--and lots of catching up to do with these good friends. Children sign the guestbook at our house when they come--at our insistence--because we want them to be able to track their improved penmanship as the years go by and they visit us again.

Audrey and I have been binge-watching an interesting series on NETFLIX, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Kondo is a delightful Japanese woman who helps her clients de-clutter and organize their homes, and lives. In her system you only keep that which "sparks joy" in your heart. You thank the rest for what it gave you in time past, and you let it go.

Hmm... I think Audrey tricked me into watching this program because she has a project in mind for me in the days ahead.

Yesterday I drove out to Mount Vernon--to walk the grounds, sit on the massive porch, and offer to take pictures of tourist families. It was pretty quiet this time, due to Covid, but I was able to do a little of that. I love welcoming people to the area and learning where they are from.

Walking the winding path up to the mansion I got to thinking, of all things, about my fourth grade Virginia history and geography book. There was a diagram of Washington's plantation in it that was spread across two pages, and I can actually remember looking at it as a child and wishing to live in so splendid a place. Now, and for the umpteenth time, I was there and was able to feel some of that ownership.

A few years ago I found a copy of that textbook at a yard sale somewhere and bought it. The story it tells of Virginia, as I read it now, is rather sanitized, appropriate for the segregated south in which I spent the first few years of my life. I would learn the more complete story later, and am learning it still, but it did ignite in me a love of history that I have never lost.

That happens when children go off to school each September. With the right books and other resources and, most of all, with quality teachers who light a fire in their young hearts and minds, they are set out on journeys of their own. The cumulative effect could take them around the world or even across the solar system one day. But even if just a few miles down the road-- to Mount Vernon in their own back yard--it will not have been a waste.

Special blessings today on all who teach, and on all who learn.

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