Saturday, June 24, 2017
“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Pooh is speaking for Karen and for me. There are many, many couples who have loved each other with a pure and true love such that neither cannot imagine living without the other. We’re that way, but we’ve come by it naturally. We have made a grand adventure out of life and that has never changed. As soon as I graduated from undergraduate school in 1970, Karen and I sold almost every thing we had, packed what was left in a Volkswagen Camper and set out from West Texas to camp across the country till we got to Los Angeles where we both had teaching jobs waiting. It took us two months to get there, camping in New Mexico, the Grand Canyon, and other out of the way places. Then, we camped out with Karen’s brother, Don, until we found a place near Karen’s school and not too far from mine. During the eleven years we lived in Los Angeles, we camped out in the desert, at the beach, snowshoed into wilderness areas, hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon where we camped for a week at the bottom, toured Harold Lloyd’s home, and went to concerts at the Hollywood Bowl and the Greek Theater where we heard Beethovan, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Neil Diamond, and John Denver. We did all these things together—the memories are shared ones.
In 1981, we moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to begin a new chapter where I went to graduate school to get a Ph.D. in English and Karen continued teaching. While there, we hiked, walked behind water falls, canoed down rivers, met famous authors, enjoyed the cultural offerings of the Walton Arts Center, traveled to Dallas to see Les Miserables and to Tulsa for Riverdance. Always together. Then came a move to Boston in 1988 where on the way we got in the boat “The Maid of the Mist” and rode underneath or near enough to Niagara Falls. During our four years in Boston, we explored Paul Revere’s house, saw the fireworks at the Hatch Shell listening to the “1812 Overture,” climbed the lighthouse on Little Brewster Island, watched Shakespeare at the Huntington, went out and communed with humpback whales out of Gloucester, and during one winter, actually walked across the frozen Walden Pond. Of course, we did all this together.
In 1992, after graduating from seminary, we moved back to Arkansas, where I pastored churches and Karen taught at George Elementary for the rest of her teaching career. While in Arkansas for the second time, we also dealt with the deaths of Karen’s mother, her brother, Don, and that of my father. Then, to the surprise of many (but not to those who really knew us), we sold or gave everything away to move to Africa to live out our lives as unpaid, volunteer missionaries on the edge of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania—together. We don’t do well apart, and, as the picture at the right demonstrates, we are still deeply in love with each other and loving our latest adventure. We don’t know how this one will end or even if it’s our last, but we know that adventure, happiness, and the service of God are all much more exciting and enjoyable if shared with someone you love. We offer this to you today, hoping that you can live life as an adventure with someone you love. God gave us each other, and we cannot do less that to serve Him with all our hearts for all of our days.