Goodbye, Old Friend

I lost an old friend this week.

Since about 1994 I have been spending my Sabbath at the Benedictine Monastery out River Road. One spring afternoon, I was walking the grounds and I wandered into the subdivision next door where I found a vacant lot with this view:

Pretty nice. The next Monday I brought a folding chair and sat in the shade all day. The picture doesn’t capture how far you can see. The expanse of beauty had a way of calming, focusing, centering me. So for more than a dozen years, spring and fall, when the weather was nice, I sat on this vacant lot enjoying the silence and the view.

One spring day three years ago, after a cold winter of indoor Sabbaths, I headed for my special place and this is what greeted me:

I knew it would happen one day–it is, after all, a subdivision, and the view from the lot is breathtaking. I continued to sit in the back yard. And, surprisingly, most Mondays there were no workers making noise. During a sermon on remembering the Sabbath, I suggested that the church consider buying the house as a parsonage. I showed pictures of the view and suggested that if I lived there, members of the congregation could come out and enjoy the beautiful, peaceful setting. I believe they thought the $1.6 million asking price was just a little steep.

Last week, Monday was a beautiful day. So I headed for my special Sabbath place and this is what I found:

The house has sold. The new family has moved in. Kids. Gym set. Pool. Workers were putting finishing touches on the house. and final landscaping is in full swing. The family wasn’t home. I look forward to meeting them and, who knows, maybe they wouldn’t mind having a pastor sitting quietly in their back yard. But something tells me that the solitude I experienced there over the years is gone forever.

So, on Monday I took a last look at “my view,” which is now theirs. And I gave thanks for all the quiet Mondays I have spent there.

I stood there remembering what I learned from John Claypool: the proper response to a gift, even when it is taken away, is gratitude that for a while it was part of your life.

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