Saturday, July 08, 2006

After the Gathering

What a week was the Gathering.

I am so full of joy and gratitude that words will not come. I always enjoy the Gathering, but this year I had experiences that were qualitatively different -- deeper, potentially transforming -- than I remember from the past. But I'm still processing and trying to decide which ones to write more about, and want to give it a little more time before writing them. I'm looking forward to the get-together at our house on Saturday for Friends from our meeting (39 of whom attended the Gathering, by my count) and the other local meetings where we'll share a meal and conversation about our experiences. Perhaps that will help me know what to write about.

So I'll start with our trip after the Gathering. At this moment -- early Saturday morning -- I’m sitting on the front porch of Lovely Wife's Sister Holly’s home on Lummi Island, looking south at the Strait of Georgia and other San Juan islands, watching a cruise ship make its way up the channel to Alaska and tiny swallows dart up to their nest under the eaves. Large mug of strong coffee. Roosters crowing. The Lavender Festival is being held down the road this Saturday morning, and the scent of lavendar saturates the air, even at a quarter mile away. Mt. Ranier visible in the south more than a hundred miles away like a dream.

Fields of lavender on Lummi Island

Yesterday, we had a delightful drive up here, making our way up on less-travelled roads on the map marked in black where we could poke along at 45 mph or so without hurry or worry, along coast lines on narrow winding lanes and through broad green valleys. The day was brilliant and clear. Seven hours and two ferry rides later, we arrived well before sunset. Right behind us were Jeff and his beautiful Max. He had ridden his bicycle from here to meet her as she rode south from the Canadian border, 45 miles to the north and who were, unbeknownst to any of us, on the same ferry. Then, after rounds of hugs and a tour of the place, and a couple glasses of red wine, we had a wonderful meal, followed by some time in a hammock on the porch, looking south, watching the day fade slowly away.

We watched the 3/4 moon rise slowly from the east while the sun was still in the western sky. But after it finally got dark – about 10:30 local time – I saw the moon’s reflection in the water, brilliant and so white it was a source of light itself. The gentle movement of the water made the reflection spread to look like a long, well-defined line of iridescent white light shining into the night sky above. We all watched in awe together as the reflection slowly moved west over the water as the moon rose higher in the sky. I am so happy to live in this world, and to the God who made it possible

The sight inspired Lovely Wife and me to sing, in harmony, a favorite German folk song:

Oh lovely moon, you shine so brightly in the sky,
Like a lamp of silver riding high.
O’er city streets you cast your silvery light,
Making all things beautiful and bright.
Every lover will discover
All the joy a shining moon can bring, as I sing:
Oh lovely moon, you shine so brightly in the sky,
Like a lamp of silver riding high.

Oh lovely moon, the scholars say you help the sun
Make the tides of ocean ebb and flow.
Surely you can move the heart of my loved one,
As she gazes on your silvery glow.
Stop and hover, right above her,
And reflect love’s message as I sing:
Oh lovely moon, you shine so brightly in the sky,
Like a lamp of silver riding high.
Thanks be to the God who put the moon in the sky and who raised the mountains out of the sea.

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