Monday, September 26, 2011

A time to talk

A time to talk- by Robert Frost

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit. 

    I don't really know what it is about this poem, but I really like it. I guess it ties in a little bit with this next blog entry that I am going to write. A few events in particular in the last week or so have made me realize how grateful I am for those people in my life who come to the stone wall for a friendly visit. They do much more than just visit- they support me, they encourage me, they love me, they play music with me, they drink coffee with me, and they even read my blog.. Thanks

   Last weekend was one of those weekends I had planned out in my mind for some time, about how great and exciting it would be. There was excitement, plenty of emotion, and at times it was great- but at times it seemed like I was meant to suffer..well maybe not suffer but at least practice some patience. 
It started with a four hour drive to the Gauley to meet up with with Josh, a friend from Charlottesville, to do some squirt boating on the Gauley. We hiked in to Pillow Rapid on the Upper G, to a sink spot called Sweet Cheeks. We had a good time watching paddlers and rafters coming through Pillow on a gorgeous, late summer day. I got a few mystery moves, but more than anything, my novice sinking skills were highlighted. Below is a video of Josh sinking at sweet cheeks. 

     Bobby and Loman joined John, Erin, and I on Friday night as we camped out at the festival. The fun began Saturday morning as John, Jon, Bobby, and I were setting shuttle. On the way to the put in, we were greeted by a pair of Chihuahua's in the middle of a steep gravel road. Trying not to hit them, I got feedback from Jon as to how close they were to my car. The battle was on. Surely, I didn't think the Chihuahua's had a chance- but I was wrong. They won. I burned out my clutch trying to save those ugly dogs, and it cost me. A lot.  We finally got the car to a fire department where I waited for a tow truck and watched the guys head off to the river.. I spent the rest of the day figuring out how to get back to Richmond. It didn't look like I was going to make it back without dropping a lot of dough, until someone reccommended renting a U-Haul and a trailer and towing the car home. I bummed a ride from the festival with an older couple doing some snorkeling in the the local Radioshack/Uhaul (best combination of businesses I have seen in a while..I thought Pizza Hut/Long John Silver was a good one). I got the last ten foot truck and trailer they had on the lot, just an hour before they closed. I hung out at the festival for a few hours until the guy's got back from paddling. They helped me load up my car onto the trailer and I hit the road around 9pm. The worst part of the drive seemed to be from 10-12, but after midnight, I guess the coffee, soda, and candy started to kick in..I think I ended up pulling into Richmond around 3:15 the next morning. 

 It was amazing to see how so many people volunteered to help out during this whole ordeal with my car. From my friends who helped me get the car on the trailer, to the middle aged snorkeling couple who I bummed a ride to the Uhaul, to my sister's boyfriend Jake who volunteered to drive all the way to WV to pick me up on Sunday. Peyton and my dad acted as my logistics support-  making countless phone calls to Uhaul's, mechanics, tow companies, AAA, etc. (my phone was close to dead/or dead most of this time)
Thanks to everyone who lended a hand in helping me get home Sunday.


Sunday- Grand Finale.
I had been looking forward to this day for a while, and was even more excited that I made it back to Richmond. Some of you may know, my uncle, who was an incredible mentor to me growing up- teaching me much of what I know about the woods, hunting, and fishing- has been in and out of substance abuse for the last 5-10 years. I grew up looking up to my uncle in so many ways, as he was an avid outdoorsman- taking me on many of my first hikes and hunting trips all over Virginia. He taught me how much nature has to teach us and how important it is to respect and honor the things that God has made. Hunting or fishing was never a sport to him, but an opportunity to spend time in the woods or on the water, being in awe of what the Creator has made. My uncle made me my first cup of coffee, gave me my first gun, showed me my first buck, gave me my first lesson in shooting a gun, and instilled in me a profound sense of wonder about nature and its Creator.
My uncle has spent the last couple of years in and out of jail, struggling with an addiction to heroin. About three months ago, I was leaving the Daily Planet for lunch one day, when on the side of our building, I spotted my uncle smoking a ciggarette. The last time I had seen my uncle was about a year and a half before, through a small window at the jail. I had heard that he was in a recovery program but didn't realize that he was in town and much less, at coming to the Daily Planet for services.  The last couple months have been incredible, getting to see my uncle on a regular basis, as he comes in for appointments and tells me about the success he is having through his recovery program. I am not only proud of him, but humbled by the person he is becoming and the effort he is putting forth to lead a new life. 
All this to say, my uncle invited my dad and I to his baptism on Sunday morning. For some time, my dad and my uncle have had a rocky relationship. I don't know all of the details, and it isn't even any of my business, but what I do know is that there can be healing, and I believe Sunday brought them one giant step closer.  My dad and I arrived at the church about ten minutes before the service started. My uncle spotted us as we were walking in and gave us both big hugs. We told him how honored we were to be there and that we were so proud of him taking this step. As the service began, the pastor, a former addict and the founder of my uncle's recovery program, asked all visitors to stand and to say who we were and whom we had been invited by. From the balcony, my dad introduced us both and stated that his brother had invited us to the service. As the service went on, and we sang the words to the "There is Power in the blood", I began to tear up, thinking about how far my uncle has come, and seeing him giving his life back, publicly, to Christ.  My dad and I both spent most of the service in a pretty emotional state - in awe- of what we were witnessing. Had anyone asked us a year ago, did we think we would be sitting here, witnessing the baptism of my uncle I might have laughed. What I realize this says about me, is that I lack faith. When asked, do we really believe God is able to do exceedingly more than we ever hoped or imagined, how often do we just say, "yeah, sure", but this was proof. 

David Platt, recently wrote a book called Radical. It is a cry to the modern church to step out beyond their comfortable lives of suburban America, Sunday football, 401k's- and to be the church that God created us to be- to abandon ourselves in order to serve the man who turned water into wine, who touched the leper's wounds, and who was crucified in spite of intense persecution. There is a quote in his book that says "Yes, you are abandoning everything you have, but you are also gaining more than you could have in any other way.  So with joy—with joy!—you sell it all, you abandon it all. Why?  Because you have found something worth losing everything else for."  This is what my dad and I saw at my uncle's baptism. We witnessed, with joy- my uncle abandoning a life he had become used to, a life that he found his identity in, to follow after the one who had rescued him. This is radical.
Side note- during the service, my dad turned to me and said, "If I had known how important this would be for us to be at this baptism together for your uncle, I would have paid $2,000 to make sure that you got home for this", I later told him, "Dad- I don't think you could put a price on what we experienced today". 
This past week, I had the opportunity to attend a health equity conference put on by the Virginia Public Health Association. This provided a nice break from the office, as well as an opportunity to hear from some leading researchers and representatives from the field of public health. 

On Saturday, I took my nephew squirrel hunting at Tuckahoe.  We had a great morning together in the woods. We did end up getting on squirrel, with which I made some squirrel jerkey. Yumm... 

Saturday night was spent having good times at Jon and Hannah's wedding at Gallery 5 in Richmond- great spot for a wedding.

The rest of Saturday and most of Sunday was spent studying Epi- fun times. We did have a birthday party for my mom at Amy's house which was a good time. Below is a present that I made for my sister's birthday, which was in August. I am a birthday behind on my gifts. Hopefully I can get something made for my mom here soon.

Thanks again for reading the blog. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

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