“Who’s going to get the tent?” someone asked on the conference call we had called to plan our gathering on the farm.
“Sure. What if it rains?”
“Port-o-potties and now tents,” I thought. “Is this really what I am supposed to be doing with my life?”
“I’ll get it,” someone offered.
“Thank God,” I thought.
A few days later, he emailed. “It’s going to be about $500.”
“Can’t we bring umbrellas?” I replied.
“I’ll keep looking.”
“I’ve got one. In Memphis. It’ll fit in our car. It’s easy to set up.”
We had a tent.
When we arrived at the land, we looked around for a place to set up our tent.
“I think the field back there will be good,” someone said pointing to clearing near the forest.
“We definitely don’t want it near the port-o-potty,” someone else joked.
“Ok,” I said. “Anyone who knows they are to pitch the tent stay here. Everyone else feel free to walk around.” They all looked at me.
“It’s easier than it sounds,” the person who picked up the tent said.
We drove across the field to the clearing by the woods. There we lifted, pulled, stretched, and turned, turned, turned ‘til all corners turned round right – on solid ground, I mean – and we had a tent, a small spot of shade on a sunny day. The tables came next. Then flowers, chocolate kisses, snacks, art and chairs. Some went off to wander while others sat and talked.
After lunch, it was under the tent that we did our work, where we received the gift of being together in spite of centuries of fear. As we went around the diverse circle, each of us told stories of our people. As I listened, I felt like I was at a family reunion. Then it was as if the ground fell out from under me as memories started to rush in. There I was at a family reunion in Southampton, NY, and there I was at the wedding banquet in Bosnia six months after the war and there I was at the altar of my church in San Jose, as if this table was connected by a thread of grace to other tables of grace in my life.
There were no walls on the tent, just a roof, moveable with the Sun, pitch-able in a flash, creating shelter, rest and healing.
“And the Word Was Made Flesh and pitched His tent among us.” (John 1:14)