So I picked up the Madame Guyon classic, “Experiencing the depths of Jesus Christ” in a used bookstore in some little town in West Virginia. I had read about her, but had not read her own writing. Already I can tell she is going to be an important teacher for me. I'll probably want to write more about her later, but this is my first aha moment.
Particularly for those who cannot read, she says, “Begin with the word, 'Father.' As you do, let the full meaning of that word deeply touch your heart.” Attempting this, I realized—as I have less consciously many times before-- that the word 'father' does not actually have much meaning for me. I've never used the word father in reference to my own dad or anyone else's who I know personally. I never say, “He's a good father”--I say “He's a good dad/parent/daddy.” For me, father is a formal and distant word, and –oddly, I know,--very British.
I have always felt enormously blessed in my comfort with God as dad because my own daddy is truly one of the most godly people I've ever known and his love for me has always been undeniable, deep and wide.
Interesting, then, to find that I stumble on the word father. So . . .
“Begin with the word, 'Daddy.' As you do, let the full meaning of that word deeply touch your heart.” Oh. I get it. Or at least I begin to.
I kind of struggled against vacation this year. It seemed so unreasonable to pay a sub to teach my summer classes, to spend precious hours shopping to fully stock our house before leaving town, to prepare to be away from our church for two Saturdays, to trust that our household would function without us for an extended period of time. But the thought of me in Dallas while Paul and Bri were in Virginia for over a week pushed me over the edge, and I agreed to go after all.
Since Bri was off to hang with Paul's mom and then meet us near Virginia, Paul and I had a long road trip together. More time than we have spent just the two of us in ages. I finally got into the vacation mode and planned out where we would spend each night on the way to Virginia. Paul discovered that the place where we would spend Friday night, Charleston, West Virginia, was actually having its annual Festivall while we were there. I delightedly checked the schedule and planned accordingly.
Thus, we pulled out of Jackson on Friday morning to begin a fantastic day. Having mostly run through our audiobooks on day 1, we ended up talking about worship and worshiping together for a big chunk of the drive. We found cheap or free refills on drinks throughout the drive and enjoyed our peanut butter sandwiches in the car. Lovely, lovely. We pulled into Charleston, a town we had loved when driving through once, checked in and headed immediately to the Sing-Along-Sound of Music! We ended up parking across the river from downtown and walking over the bridge looking at water taxis while jazz wafted up to us. We made our way to the theater just on time and got our goody bags: a bell, a plastic sprig of eidelweiss, a square of curtain fabric, a glow stick, and a popper (for the first time Maria and the Captain kiss). Then we got our instructions about cheering for Maria, barking at Rolff, hissing at the Baroness (although one contingent at the front followed every hiss with “It's not her fault!”) saying aawww at Gretel's cuteness, and yelling, “Liar!” whenever someone tells a fib. Amazing how well I know the lyrics to all those songs. Fun to sing them badly with a theater full of other fans. Hilarious to hear comments: Our favorite audience comment was when Maria was comforting the heart-broken Leisl--”You'll see, you'll fall in love again one day and everything will be wonderful--” Huge audience roar: LIAR! Followed by rolls of laughter. So much fun. Then we walked back across the bridge in the moonlight and drove to our perfectly acceptable little hotel room.
The next morning, we headed to downtown and meandered through the art fair. Blocks and blocks of tents sheltering a wide array of artists. Cool kids' area where we missed Brianna greatly. But someone let Paul make a whirlygig for her and someone else gave us the kit for weaving her own coinpurse. Not actually being kids, we didn't push to do the marbling or clay or tambourines or hats. Didn't even see all of the kid options. It was fun to see all the different art, talk with a few artists, and overhear the conversations between locals: 'I didn't know you wrote—Is this your first book?' and 'I haven't tried your idea yet about painting vegetables—maybe this summer.' We also found an excellent bookstore along the way—In addition to a wide enough assortment of interesting books to make us wish we had hundreds of dollars to spend on books for everyone we know, there was a coffee shop, an art gallery, and a clay studio. Check that off on our list of things that make a city a perfect place to live. We had an amazing local pizza for lunch and headed on through beautiful mountain roads. Really just one of my favorite days ever. Not to mention the sheer joy of spending that much one-on-one time with the love of my life. Sweet.