23 June 2011
A Gathering of Spirits, A Flashlight, And A Talk With Larry
Oh, Larry - I thought of you often tonight. And I really wish you were here.
I'm in Chicago for the annual campus ministry staff conference. You always come up here, of course - so many of us have such deep ties to you, and fond memories of all your years in Washington, South Dakota and Nebraska. Every year I swear to myself I'm not going to bring you up, that I'm just going to be the campus pastor from Iowa State, and every year I'm telling people, "Larry was my campus pastor." I try not to canonize you, but you made it pretty damn hard, my friend.
We had this wonderful musician at the conference this week - Carrie Newcomer. She closed with this song about getting together with old friends, and it made me think of that great day when you and me and all those people we love will be together again. I think you would have liked her, if we could have kept you from talking long enough to listen.
Tonight I'm really missing you. Those phone conversations the few years we actually got to be colleagues were so important, and I really miss being able to come to you with stuff. Try as I might, it's tough to find someone to take your place.
I drank a few beers and talked with a lot of friends, and it was wonderful, but I just couldn't feel comfortable for some reason. Watching everyone talking, and laughing, and enjoying being with one another, I just couldn't fit in for some reason tonight. Not sure what the deal was, but I know a quiet corner and a good talk with you would have made me understand it better.
Things are really complicated for us these days. It's hard to know what's ahead of us, whether we'll be able to turn things around and convince our brothers and sisters that this ministry we do on campus is essential to the church. One minute I'm hopeful, the next minute I'm not. I miss your spirit, your enthusiasm, your sheer cussed determination to find whatever it is that's needed to get things going the way they need to go. I'm not that guy yet, and it's going to be a while before I can be. For right now, I'm just going to hold on as tight as I can to Jesus - which is probably what you would have told me to do anyway.
I miss you, my friend. Wish you were here.