Summer is over. Oh, I know it’s not according to the calendar. Nor is it over according to the temperature. This coming week, again it’s supposed to be in the 90s. But, I write this as I prepare to return from summer vacation to NYC.
We’re closing the house in NC. That’s an interesting phrase in and of itself, since actually you close a house every time you walk out of it. But, in a larger sense, we (i.e., Page) are throwing things away (like so many flowers that are still pretty but would die before Page returns), putting things in the shed and the attic, re-routing the mail, psycho cleaning every nook and corner, repairing an attic fan, replacing security lights, etc. That is Page’s version of closing the house.
I have a different version. My process of closing up is making a final round of my favorite eating places. I have been checking them off the list one at a time: Red, Hot, & Blue BBQ, Camel City BBQ, Little Richard’s BBQ, Speedy’s BBQ … I am sensing a theme here. But additionally, there have been end-of-summer trips to other restaurants that serve other fares, like Five Points (admittedly for barbecued ribs, so it’s not a total break with the pattern), Prime Time Soul Food, and Mama Zoe’s Kitchen. Today is the finale – my final summer trip to Kermit’s. Kermit’s is an institution. It’s a throwback to another age, a drive-in where you can also eat in. It’s kind of a smaller version of Arnold’s from Happy Days. Kermit’s serves up all sorts of wondrous stuff (with health-conscious sides like thick fries, onion rings, and tater tots). But it’s famous for it’s foot long dog. I’m not sure I can describe how wonderful that work of culinary art is. It’s a thick hot dog – literally a foot long – covered with slaw, onions, chili (no beans, of course), and topped with pimento cheese. That, tots, and a Cheerwine (non-alcoholic, think Cherry Dr. Pepper), and life is good! That is today’s lunch. Tonight is salmon and salad, so that should eradicate the 1,000 calories from lunch at Kermit’s. I am closing up for summer (which is a good thing since none of my clothes fit me now – seriously, none!).
Concluding vacation has a real plus side. That is coming home to Marble and NYC. If I am away from our church for too long, I get homesick. It’s not just that I love Marble. It’s that I need it, as well. You know? I need to be reminded that diverse people can be unified in spirit. I need to be reminded that faith can also be fun. I need to be reminded that we can take Jesus seriously without taking ourselves too seriously. I need to be reminded that there is a God up there who calls us to go out there – doing things that make the world different and better. I need the worship, the study, the music, the dreams and visions, the outreach into community and society that challenges evil and reforms systems, the friends, the smiles, the hugs, the people. Part of closing up for summer means opening back up to the life and work I cherish on the corner of 29th and 5th.
This program year, our theme marries our past with our future: Positive Faith, Practical Living. I’m excited as I consider the programs, the missions, the guests, and so much more that is on tap as we move into a new ministry season. So, it’s time to close up vacation and open up a new chapter at Marble. I’m ready. I just hope that when I open up my closet in New York, I can still fit into some of the clothes that are hanging there.