In I’ve heard it said that Heaven is a long “hello.” I’m not here to debate the theology of that statement, but when you take into account that saying “goodbye” is so difficult and the book of Revelation says there will be no more tears or mourning or crying or pan, it’s hard for me to say that this statement is too far off.
And if that statement is true, I feel like we had a little taste of Heaven during Milligan’s Homecoming weekend. It was a weekend full of reunions and introductions and saying “hello” to long-lost friends. Here’s just a glimpse of the people and places we said “hello” to during Homecoming…
Bays Mountain State Park
Christy used to bring the kids here while we were in our grad school era of Tri Cities living (as opposed to the BK – Before Kids – undergrad era of Tri Cities living). We had to go back to Bays Mountain to say hello to the wolves, deer, and predatory birds. Of course, we also had to ask the fox what he says.
Although Cheers is long and gone, many of the old stand bys that have become closely associated with Milligan we still around. And it was a beautiful thing to be reunited with them.
We met Melissa/Bob/Miss Awissa at Firehouse for some Southern barbecue that was out of this world. I don’t think I really appreciated Firehouse while we lived there because… well… it wasn’t Shyler’s. I guess you could say my palate has matured because there’s plenty of room on my plate for both barbecue (assuming Shyler’s does eventually reopen).
Not only is Pal’s tasty, but it seems they’ve hired some mind readers, too…
That’s our Goddaughter on the trampoline. She’s dressed up like a fairy princess. I think. And she’s practicing so she’ll be able to learn how to fly. Since she’s our Goddaughter, this really shouldn’t be a surprise. Should it? It’s just par for the course.
And Miss Awissa/Bob/Melissa would like for me to inform you that no, she is not pulling Mihret’s arms out of her sockets. They’re dancing to music that wasn’t playing. That’s kind of par for the course, too.
The Kids and Their Old New Friends
It was amazing watching our kids play together. Some of them met for the very first time. Some hadn’t seen each other in quite a while – and most of them probably didn’t really remember each other. But they played and played and played. It was heartwarming to see them play like they’d known each other all their lives.
The Hoover Farm
Heather and Randy invited us to their farm for a bonfire. It was great spending more time with everyone and it was just a little bit reminiscent of the bonfires we used to have at Milligan – without the kids running around and playing, of course.
We walked along the banks of Buffalo Creek for some family pictures. I couldn’t help but remember and pray for the guys I had baptized in that creek more than a decade ago.
I think the weekend convinced Aiden to consider attending Milligan (years down the road when it’s time for him to start looking seriously at college. I know it’ll be here before we know it though). Until I opened my big mouth and talked about the tradition of throwing a guy in the Creek after he gets engaged. Now I think we’re back to square one with him.
Of course, since Milligan doesn’t have a football team, our efforts might be futile anyway.
Milligan students of the mid to late 90s gathered with their families in Lower Seeger for a night of Vespers, not unlike the services we used to have every Sunday evening while we were students. It was moving beyond words.
I don’t know why it took us 15 years to decide to do something like this, but I pray that this will become a regular part of Homecoming weekends in the future.
After the amazing Vespers service, we had to take a quick walk through the Chapel. The kids, however, weren’t satisfied with just a walkthrough. They had to jump on stage.
We left Tennessee’s fair eastern mountains with our hearts full and already looking forward to the next time we’ll be able to say “hello” while standing in the shadow of Buffalo Mountain.