One of the most endearing memories I have of Larry, my mentor and campus pastor, comes from this time of year. Larry hated winter. I mean, he despised being cold with every fiber of his not-so-well-padded being. Skinny Germans with high metabolisms do not fare well north of the Mason-Dixon line, and even in Lincoln, Nebraska, winter can get cold. So, for a few months every year, Larry would come to the Student Center and immediately throw on the burgundy sport coat he kept in his office for just such weather. Then, when one of us pyromaniacs in the Student Center community would come in and build a fire, he'd come out of his office and find his spot by the fire. He'd warm his hands in front of the grate, and have a seat at the table. If it was really cold, he'd stand just to the left of the fireplace, with his skinny butt pressed up against the stones to keep himself warm.
One of the things I first noticed about the Lutheran Center here in Ames was the fireplace - it's almost exactly like the one in Lincoln. In fact, I have my suspicions that, given the similiarities in construction and the roughly concurrent construction dates, our buildings share the same architect and/or designer. Today, in a burst of inspiration, I finally figured out where my own spot by the fire will be. I've moved two of our wingback chairs on either side of the fireplace, set up a reading lamp, and made myself cozy. With a cup of hot chocolate at my side and a fire burning merrily in the fireplace, it's a nice spot to be.
And so goes the continuing saga of campus ministry for me. Ames is beginning to feel more and more like "our town," which is very good. The campus ministry game is slowing down for me, in football terms: like a quarterback who's learning a complicated offense, I'm starting to see how things fit together and the subtle nuances that can really make or break our ministry. Today, as I sat here writing my sermon, it occurred to me that perhaps someone will remember me in this spot like I remember Larry in his, and if that were to happen, well, I'd be pretty happy to be remembered so fondly. (Except for one of our students, who can't come into the building when there's a fire in the fireplace because of soot and airborne particulate allergies. So, I guess there's only one guarantee, and that's that D will NEVER remember me like this. :-) )
So, here are warm Friday wishes to you all, from my comfy spot by the fire. Peace, friends.
ps: if you are of the praying sort, please keep my friend Ellen in your prayers - she's received a pretty scary bit of health news today. thanks.