L'Abri and my life

When I found books on our shelves by the Schaeffers, I was delighted and read them.

And then I was envious of those who had grown up in L'Abri. What a cool atmosphere.

It's taken a while to realize how incredibly L'Abri-ish of an environment I did grow up in. The people in our home were not the sort of people that I would have chosen, but wasn't that always part of the idea?

As a friend of mine put it, All who come, come for a reason.

Our home was a constant stream first of children, as we adopted four in about five years, then of mental health workers (as I said, not the company I would have picked. I'm snobby like that.) And very often, guest pastors, who would do pulpit exchanges or some such with our pastor.

It was an interesting combination. To say the least.

The more I think about it, too, the more interesting it is... an odd blend of rich theological and mental food for a child, and outrageous opportunities for ministry to people who have to be in your home, who have to see how people who openly and unashamedly claim Christianity as their identity really live.

We were talking about it tonight, memories of the pastors who we had in our house.

...

Remember him? That really boring one? Worst guest ever! I mean, not the worst, but SO BORING! At least, if they're going to be a bad guest, they may as well be interesting... (Turns out that I'm the only one who remembers this particular guy. He was boring. Deadly boring. Nice. But dull.)

...

Remember that guy? Oh, he was the worst guest ever. He was up on charges with the presbytery for something, but no one TOLD us that before he came for dinner...

...

And remember, he went in and started playing the piano, and you were SO MAD because we had just gotten one of the Littles down for a nap...

...

No, you can't remember that! You weren't even born yet!

...

Was it Danny O. who got the -- what was it? broccoli? mashed potatoes? -- flung right past his head, catapulted out of a spoon... and it hit the wall behind him? And he never even flinched?

...

Wrapped in with all those memories are other ones: the annoying feeling of knowing that something was going on and knowing that I was too young to understand what was going on, why the adults were upset... Danny O looking at our grapevine and talking to me about the passages in the Old Testament where God promised that each man would sit under his own vine... and I know that I had an unusual and blessed time of growing up.

...

We reminisce about the mental health people, too, trading competing trains of thought and lines of conversation that drive each other and especially anyone who didn't live here crazy.

...

...reminds me of that time Chadeboo couldn't find his pager... and he pushed the air conditioner out of the window...

...

Was her name Kelly?

...

And she locked her keys in her car, and we had to let Ib down by the ankles through her sunroof to get them...

...

Remember how we always teased her about having twins? And cow tongue?

...

Remember that Christmas? When I opened the door and was like, Merry Chri-- YOUR HAIR! And Dad came to the door and was like, SEAN! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR HAIR???

...

Remember when we were at the amusement park and someone lost their hat? Whose hat was it? Sean's or Ib's?

...

The stories, as unintelligible as they are to virtually anyone outside of our family, are an incredibly good thing. The fact that we find something to laugh at in our memories of some of those times amazes me and gives me hope that good things were happening, even in the middle of a lot of messed-up-ness.

They aren't the whole picture. The stories even of entertaining pastors don't touch the stress of having guests in the house (mostly for my mother, since we were all little); the stories of the mental health people don't scratch the memories that are truly bad and that I like to forget that I have.

But it's messy. And I am deeply grateful to God that I did grow up in an overwhelming messy, alive home. What I believed didn't automatically fix everything. But it DID touch everything. And there was no where to hide from the messiness or the beliefs, or to keep them in some way separated. (How can you, when staff people are at the dining room table where you're working on Latin, then history, then your Bible lessons? It doesn't work that way!)

Josh Harris recently (pretty recently) wrote a book called Dug Down Deep. Nope, I haven't read it. But that summarizes well what I feel like happened in my life. Being dug down deep wasn't an option. I got watered with streams that ran deep, an education that was awfully close to perfect for me, a steady stream of Godly, wise people influencing my life. And I was planted in a place that required roots. Deep, strong roots.

I've been glad to see it continue and change as I grow up, too. My first year at college, I lived in a room where the door was almost always open. Literally. This year, I don't even know how many people knew my roomcode. I can bring, and have brought, a huge variety of people home with me. My parents have let me do that, my sibs are good with it. (It's funny... some of them are very outspoken about which guests they've enjoyed... other times they surprise me a year later. "Remember? That was FUN, when we did it last year!") We've abandoned guests for a while to their own devices, having to go to a funeral, and almost gotten stranded in a snow storm on the way back to campus, and shuffled beds to make space for extra people, and taught games, and shared holidays, and stayed up most of the night talking about things that have not been much talked about before... and it is good. Certainly not always safe, but a risk worth taking, and good.

God is indeed good.

Comments

  1. I feel very honoured.

    And, quite sure it was broccoli. I just had no memory of who was on the receiving end.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Hard to Find

Home

Where Else Would I Go?