We smiled shyly at each other, not sure what the protocol was for the newly relationshipped after a month or two of separation. It seemed star gazing and catching up would be the most appropriate things to do, so we sneakily laid down in the just-as-delicously-springy-as-they-look juniper bushes that Kentucky and I had spent our summer of greenhouse work attempting to sneak a lounge in. Kentucky and I always got hollered at not to just before we thought we were home free.
Hooligans? Yes, we were being hooligans. If you ever get to lay in a juniper bush, though, I bet you will notice that you are just a little too comfortable to care.
It was a lovely place to be still, discuss leisurely, and re-establish.
I suddenly became abundantly aware that Star and Joseph hadn't yet met. Agreeing that we should remedy this as soon as possible, we made plans to drive to Chattanooga.
That trip was one I surely won't ever forget.
Joseph and Star had an instant connection. Everything went beautifully.
Star, though, having seen me hurt in the past couldn't resist letting Joseph know that he had better not get out of line lest he suffer the best friend wrath.
She sat him down on the sofa and looked seriously into his eyes. "I don't believe you will hurt her, Joe.", she reassured, "But I am giving you fair warning right now that if you do, I will take four forks."
Star paused for affect. "And I will stab them into your testicles." She didn't even crack a smile as she said this. I was biting my lips trying to refrain from outbursts of inappropriate laughter.
Joseph didn't flinch. He gazed back at her tenderly and took her hands. "I promise you I will do everything in my power to never hurt Sarah. I care about her very much and I never want to see her hurt, especially not by me."
"Okay. I'm glad we had this talk." Star then hugged him and asked if we wanted to watch The Office with her. We did. It was beautiful to hold hands with Joseph and feel legal about it.
Since it was a long drive, we were staying for the weekend. The next morning was Sunday, so we got up early and got ready to go to church.
I love Star's church. It is called The Vineyard and it's just hip enough for me to feel at ease while not being too hip for me to take seriously. It is a safe church with a congregation that has a heart for the poor in their community and a hearty understanding of Grace. I loved that Joseph was getting to come with us and experience it.
Joseph's experiences with church were limited to our home church and the way his family did church.
The way his family did church was in their home with his dad as the pastor. For whatever reason, it had been quite some time since Joe's family had participated in any other kind of church service.
Those living-room services were somber and a bit stern - so careful was Joseph's dad to maintain a reverent atmosphere. Joseph never knew that God was more than a religion, or that church was meant to be a fellowship of believers all trying to learn and grow and love together. That God is not only the God of stern, reverent settings, but the God of the day to day. God is there in the mess of our lives. In homes with unwashed dishes and 4 month old great dane puppies who haven't yet learned not to jump on visitors. In offices where bosses condescend and coworkers have affairs. He is with students who walk to class and arrive with sweaty armpits and a realization that they have once again forgotten their homework.
He never knew that God doesn't only listen to organ music. That we serve a God who sings and dances over us. So mightily pleased, is He, with His creation. So mightily in love.
I feel it necessary to inform you that the pastor of Star's church is named Bucky Buckles. And his wife's name is Becky. I kid you not. Bucky and Becky Buckles. I have very much enjoyed the words and actions I've seen flow from those two thus far.
After church, we were promised a visit from Grey if Joseph and I could swing just one day of skipped classes and leave Monday night instead of Sunday night. Nothing important was going on (never let a professor hear you say that), so we stayed.
Monday afternoon, Star made us some mustard pizza and we sat on the floor and scarfed it down with extreme gusto. That stuff is good.
When it was all gone, Star went outside on the porch for a cigarette and Joseph followed to keep her company.
Grey and I had a heart to heart. I told her about Azalea and how it all went down, ending my story with the final message I had received from her.
"I'm a broken, leaky pot, Grey!" I pouted.
Grey took my hands (we do a lot of this in our friend circle, if you haven't noticed) and declared, "That is the best thing to be! And I will tell you why."
She then passed on to me a favorite story of hers. She said once there was a pot that sat amongst all the other pots on it's master's shelf. The other pots were whole and perfect, but this pot had cracks in it, and it knew it. It felt a sadness every time it's master reached for it because it knew how ineffective it was, due to it's brokenness.
Finally, a day came when the pot could contain it's hopelessness no more than it could the water that spilled from it's cracks on every journey home from the river. "Master!" it cried, "Throw me away! I am of no use to you! I leak water all the way home!"
It's master's eyes looked on it softly and he said, "I could never throw you away! You are my favorite pot! You are the one that waters the flowers."
I could not ask for better friends. It is a serious treasure when you find such people who will not only forgive you your wrongs, but will also help you forgive yourself.(Continued here)