I am looking forward to the first of two road trips this summer. This one, in which we will end up in Iowa for Leah’s high school graduation, is a warm up for the Montana trip in late June for Jenna’s late father’s memorial service. A stopping point on each trip will be our dear friends Karl & Sue in Central Ohio. I was going to call them brother Karl and sister Sue, but then I’d have difficulty explaining the two children they have together. They are like family to Jenna and I. I feel this especially for a couple of reasons.
The first is that I have no siblings or parents living in the states. Apart from my children, who I dearly love but do not relate to as siblings (obviously enough), my family is in Australia. It has been four years since I saw my mother, and 15 since seeing my sister and brother. The role Karl & Sue play in my life, therefore, fills an enormous void.
Another reason they are family is that we share so much. Like in my own relationship, Sue grapples to understand and deal with Karl’s bipolar disorder. We were even diagnosed at approximately the same time, after trying to make sense of each of our messy lives. Karl chose a different course for dealing with his insanity – one that I admire. While I was addicted to drugs, drinking like a fish and womanizing, Kerl was being hyper-responsible – responsible for everything that happened in the life of someone he knew. Not responsible in the sense of it being his fault, but in the sense that he was responsible for making it better. Of course, he couldn’t, which is where his self-loathing comes from.
Now that probably sounds like a vacation in hell to many, but their home in Ohio is heaven to us. We are all kindred spirits in many ways. It doesn’t have anything really to do with Karl and me being motorheads or what any of us do for a living. It is truly just like kin – like siblings who love each other just because they are and just how they are. No pretense – no playing nice when we’re pissed – just wonderful honesty and warmth for each other.
The relationship Karl, Sue, Jenna and I have reminds me constantly of the relationships that all of God’s children should have. We are a family of God and, if we share anything at all, it is that we all dismay at the current condition of God’s larger family. I am raw from dealing with some of those broken and unGodly relationships, which is why this trip is looming so important for me. I get to see a glimpse of what ought to be, instead of what is.
Anyway, back to the point of this post – i will be writing from the road. The tenor of what I write will likely be different and, if Jenna has anything to do with it, I won’t be doing exegesis or sermon-writing (even though i don’t get to deliver them, I still write sermons at least once a week). So, it will pretty much be life stuff this next two weeks – observations from the road. I’ll see how many of you I lose in that period of time.