Gathering In Old Dominion (Part 2)

The week of Virginia was quite memorable, in more ways than one. It was pretty cool for the four of us having met in person and not fleeing at first sight, but also that we instantly just *clicked* in person like we did online. I think that was due to our policy of “no masks” in our chat room. Meaning if you were sad one day, you didn’t hide it. If you were ridiculously happy, you shared it. There were no false fronts, and because of that, we were able to interact with each other naturally- like we’d always been best friends.

Interact we did, with all the other cool people at the gathering. The hosts were awesome in hospitality, food (very important), and keeping it feeling like we had stuff to do, but not like we were running around crazy. The bible studies were interesting, and conversations all kinds of lighthearted, serious, and just plain ridiculous. Everyone at the gathering would just sit in the living room and talk about where they’ve gone, hobbies, life goals, forum stuff, degree experiences, and weird things they’ve eaten. We all exchanged injury stories, played games like Settlers of Catan and “Family” (still not sure how that one works). We played frisbee in 15-20 mph winds, which meant we chased the frisbee in 15-20mph winds… All of this and more, all under the umbrella of Christ based discussions. Yeah, it was cool.

But let’s get back to the reason four of us really attended the gathering, it was to meet and get to know each other better as friends. Thanks to Mr. Rhoden renting a car, we were able to ride together and have many more serious conversations and reflections on the week and life, without interruptions or distractions. Of course, we also rocked Andrew Allen, The Lion Sleeps tonight, and other related songs too. ;) It stood out to me how we all were able to switch seamlessly from a serious discussion on anything, be laughing at a joke Drew made, then go back to seriousness. Those car rides were one of the most memorable things of the gathering, and I think it was there we got to know each other more than anywhere else that week.

While we did try to blend in with the main group, we pretty much did stick out like Christmas lights in the Summertime. Probably the most apparent place this happened was during an amazingly beautiful hike we took in the VA woods. For some reason, still unknown to me, people decided a light jog (slightly exaggerated) would be a perfect pace to set in hiking. I don’t know about you, but my hikes are more of a strolling type deal. Turns out that all four of us were strolling type people. It wasn’t long before the main party was out of sight ahead, and the four of us, Mr. Rhoden, and Kaitlyn (A cool girl from VA) with her dad (also a pretty cool guy). We would chat, stop and look at the river, and then walk some more. One thing that still makes me chuckle thinking back on that hike, is Jen- The gal who was part of the host family and kinda worked out all the logistics and such, would dash away from the big group, run up to us and ask Cheerfully “Are you guys OK? Do you need us to carry your bags? Let’s go!” and then dash off back to the big group. Back and forth and back and forth… Yes, it struck me as quite humorous.

Near the end of the hike, I was walking by myself behind the main group, but apart from the small, slow moving group. I like people (for the most part) but I was at the point where I wanted to just be somewhat alone with my thoughts. So, strolling along looking at the trees, river, and such, Cassie ran up to where I was and just started walking with me. One thing I appreciated was she didn’t try to start talking about nothing immediately, so I just asked something like “Had enough of people too?” I wasn’t trying to be funny, but she laughed, and we had a great conversation about many things we were experiencing and struggling with in life. They were different, yet similar, and all boiled down to loving persons who were not lovable at all. So we talked about that, listened to her summer plans, and just enjoyed that moment of being with a friend whom I could trust, and appreciating how rare that was.

We did other things that week too. Everyone saw some sights in Mt. Vernon and Washington D.C, the four of us acted out a skit amongst ourselves that we enjoyed immensely. No, we didn’t do it for anyone, we just did it as a fun thing.  Everyone played improv games and such. The four of us also recorded an “Unprofessional News” video when we went to DC, interviewing people and getting thoughts from the week. Honestly, I don’t think any of us wanted that week to end, in one sense anyway. But end it did. Drew and I went to TeenPact the next week, and then we all went back to texting and Skyping. We knew we all wanted to see each other again, but we had no idea when or how that would happen. So we resumed our lives all across the country. We felt blessed we had such communications, but it certainly wasn’t the same. Not in the least.

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