Whew! This weekend has really been a whirlwind. I have been anticipating Kayla's wedding and accompanying hoopla for so long now, it feels surreal that it has actually come and gone. I won't go into all the details, the personal jokes, the small moments that would likely mean very little to anyone outside of myself. Suffice it to say, I was fed by this weekend. The word I would use to describe the entire time would be joy. Every moment was so filled with joy for me.
Joy for Kayla and Austin, as I watched a couple that I have sincere admiration for and that the Lord has used to minister to me. I can truly say that I love the Lord more for having been a part of their relationship- as He has taught me this year so much about the Church as His Bride and the tension of already/not yet in our relationship with Him (and how that mirrors engagement!), He has consistently used their ups and downs as a tangible example of the spiritual metaphor that romantic love was designed to be. I am so thankful to have had these experiences before I have to try to do all this marriage stuff myself!
Joy, also, to relish time with sweet friends, old and new, who give me energy. It's been so long since I've been so completely at my ease that at times I was a little overwhelmed- I had to battle not to go internal. I got such peace from basking in the presence of friends who know me so well and with whom I laugh so heartily. Is there really any sweeter sound than laughter between friends long separated? I'm sure there are, but it was the sound that I have been longing to hear for many moons. It's so strange to me- the time that I spend with these old friends completely reenergizes me to invest more in my new friends in DC. I think it's because my old friends remind me that (prepare for me to toot my own horn) I am fun- I do have things to offer to people. I am a good friend who is loyal and therefore has loyal friends. They give me the confidence to build relationships with people who are still learning these things about me. And then there's just the relaxing state of non-work... my relationships with old friends don't demand all that work, at least when we're face to face. It's plenty of work to keep up over the phone/Facebook/Skype- but when we're in person, our relationship is easy, comfortable, and known. In other words, it is the things that a friendship is after an extended period of being hard, a bit awkward, and unsure.
Joy to spend time with my family. The heart truly has grown fonder in our distance, and things that I wanted or needed from them at one time don't seem as important. They certainly would crop back up if I was to spend an extended period of time with them, I'm sure :), but I am so thankful for the gift of being able to be in the moment with them and fully enjoy the security and love that they unwaveringly offer me. I love giggling with my mom, debating with my dad, hugging my sister, and playing with my niece. They are so dear to my heart and it really is a blessing to have the perspective to fully engage and enjoy them.
And finally, joy to be in the landscape that I was raised in. As I descended into the McGhee-Tyson airport, I gazed out the window at the Smokey Mountains. It had been raining earlier in the morning and it was still misty over the mountains. The eponymous smoke had settled on them- through the wispy veil, I saw the oranges and reds of the autumnal trees, and the beauty of the green meadows that stretched around their base. The small country houses and churches that dotted the grassy expanses looked so much like a Thomas Kinkade painting it could have been a little nauseating. But it wasn't. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen and I realized that I was crying a little as I continued to watch the tableau get closer and closer. I felt so silly- they were mountains I've seen all my life. But as I've been away, I've discovered how much the external landscape that you grow up in becomes a very important internal landscape. Others who have moved away from where they spent all their formative years have echoed this to me- I think you can never really feel at home anywhere else. I, anyways, believe that I will never feel completely at ease away from the mountains. I'd like to think my heavenly house will be settled at the top of a mountain. Anyways, between the mountains and it being my favorite time of year, fall, my thirst for aesthetic comfort was thoroughly satiated and I drank up every visual glass of water greedily.
Anyways, this was a little sappy, looking back, but I guess I'm in that kind of mood. I always return from my hometown with a renewed vigor for engaging in the present tasks at hand. Next on the agenda- exploring how God is calling me to serve others and give more. I've really been mulling over what it means to seek to give more generously versus to seek to live more simply and therefore give more generously. We'll see where He's going with this...