Thursday, July 05, 2007


The thrum of a powerful engine drew my attention from the man in the 1940 coupe I was talking with. Another muscle car had pulled up for the classic car show.

It’s our annual General Canby Day, a highlight of the year.

I helped guide scores of classic cars find a parking place on 5th Street or Grant Avenue. This part of our Independence Day celebration was started by my friend Bob Cryder and still takes place in the street in front of where he once lived.

His widow was there. She is one of those large, mothering types who endlessly deals out hugs and smiles. She looked wistfully at the house that wasn’t hers, and never was.

Shortly after Bob died she sold the house. During the refurbishing an overheated sander and its sack of sawdust caught fire during the evening and burned it all to the ground. They rebuilt the house exactly like the craftsman style house that had been there, but something about it said “I’m young, I’m not the house you knew.”

It was a lot of fun. I stood in front of William Knight Elementary and watched folks go in for some pancakes while I joked with car buffs about their fine rides.

After several hours working the car show, I cast my vote for the judge’s choice award (a really sweet 1961 Volkswagen van that simply made me feel good).

I visited the booths and met with friends, neighbors, students. It is one of the joys of teaching within the town I reside. I’m a minor celebrity to kids and their parents who seem a little surprised that I have a life outside the classroom.

I love this town. It has grown to 10 or 14 thousand (depending how much of the surrounding rural area one calls our community.

I love running into people I know. Folks from church. Folks from businesses where I shop. Former students and their parents. The kids always seem shocked to see me outside of the classroom.

I wandered around the booths.

Enjoyed a little blue grass.

Watched Jeremiah toss dimes into glass containers and win a silly little prize.

It is a good feeling to know people, have them know you.

It is a good feeling to be good to people... to compliment near strangers... pick up a stray piece of trash because one feels the town is yours.

I caught up with my lovely wife and her mother, and I went and fetched Jeremiah. We picked out a spot to watch the parade.

I love being a part of a community. That is a large part of why I love my church. There are a lot of better reasons for going to church... a place to center oneself spiritually, a place to go to pray, a place to be held accountable, a place to learn, partake in communion, worship... But the sense of belonging is important to me.

I’m not wise enough to know who is saved and who isn’t. I have been giving this a lot of thought lately as I am about to go down to meet my dad before he does a life-threatening stunt that could put him in the record books (I leave next Tuesday, early).

I think a part of being a citizen of heaven will be a little like being a citizen of Canby. I think part of the joy of eternal life will be belonging. I think the internal smile that lifts my heart when I greet the firemen and police officers I know, or getting the knowing smile and nod from the veterans from the local American Legion as they lead the parade,
or chat with a parent who tells me how a former student is doing in college is... that internal smile seems to be one of those good things that seem to be a gift from Him, from God.

I suspect that those clean emotions we have, the feelings which seem so very right, are echoes of the divine. And as such, I think, perhaps, it is the sort of thing we will feel in Heaven.

So, those people who don’t seem to be able to connect to people. Those who are completely self-absorbed, self-centered, are they capable of giving enough of themselves, of even of seeking help, partaking in the eternal communion?

Everything about my faith... everything about the theology of Christianity is about love.

Love God, love others.

It was a great Fourth of July... a great General Canby Day.

It was a day of community, of helping others, loving and being loved.

I love this town.


Chris Krycho said...

These last two posts have been flickers of light, flashes of joy after a long darkness. They're a blessing. I don't know that they mean things are better, or even that you're doing any better. But it's encouraging to see you have at least these moments of joy and lightness of heart that have come through. It really is an answer to prayer.

Keep on keepin' on, as some friends of mine say. I pray joy and peace be your constant companions, no matter what storms of emotion rage around them in your heart. God bless.

Jada's Gigi said...

You do sound better...:) my husband was commenting just the other day about how humanity longs for community... we will join club and associations...hang at bars or even talk to strangers in the grocery store...longing/looking for is truly one of the best reasons to be in the church..there is much about it that is glad your 4th was full of community..sounds like it sparked divinity within you...:)

Coco said...

it sounds like a wonderful day : )

"community", the sense of belonging, of being with "family"-
this is so important for one's well being...


Squirrel said...

I know exactly how you feel! I LOVE my town and all the people. There is nothing like going to the 4th of July get together and saying hello to everyone because we all know each other from the local cafe or from church. It's a wonderful feeling isn't it?!

ame said...

without community, church is a waste of time. which is why i hate church in this season of my life. i'm left out of the community of the church, and i'm simply tired of fighting it. i believe heaven will be all about relationships :) and it will be, well, heaven!!!

it IS funny seeing teachers outside of the classroom ... that they have a life :) it must be incredibly rewarding to hear how former students are doing.

Jim said...

Small towns are wonderful for knowing people. More probably know you than you know them.

If you move a way to the hills, most of it goes away. You have to start all over again, and retired people aren't very important.
So there isn't much reason to get to know you. Eventually a reputation can be built again, but it won't be the same.
Mine wasn't.

Penless Thoughts said...

There was a spark of joy in this post :o)

jel said...

sounds like ya had some fun,

and those are some very cool cars there!

safe trip!