When I was in graduate school in the first year of my doctoral program I thought I was going to die. 12+ hour days combined with endless reading, writing, patient observation, and evil professors trying to weed us out every chance they could get. It was sink or swim, but swimming by yourself was a BAD idea. My classmates and I quickly realized we'd only make it if we stuck together. And stick together we did. We became family. We studied together, we worked together, we failed tests together, we laughed and cried together, we punctured eardrums together, and every once in a while....I mean like once or twice every semester....we'd have a moment to just enjoy the friendships we had formed. We'd go out for a real meal, plop ourselves into a booth, and I'd grin and hold up my Coca-Cola in a toast and say, "Here's to togetherness!" They'd all laugh at me, but they would remember the next time we were out and I'd do it all over again. We're all still good friends now and we don't see each other nearly as often as we should but when we do I make sure we toast to togetherness!
|Jen L., Alison, Julie, D'Arcy, Me, Jen D. circa 2002?|
Last year we lost a dear friend, Tony (Anthony) Torres to a sudden and very serious respiratory illness. Tony was young. A husband. A father. His death was shocking. Tony was a member of our college church group, Quest. Tony's death caused us all to reflect about that time way back when, when we were doing life together. It was really special because we had such a large number of people from all different ages, backgrounds, life stories, personalities, etc. who just simply loved to be together. Those years were almost magical because all of these people literally became like a family. We'd do anything for each other. Of course life changed, people moved, people got married, had kids, did the things that people do. But when Tony passed away so many of us came back together to honor and remember him. And it was just like a family reunion. It was togetherness. And although the reason for it was so sad, the togetherness was awesome.
Sometimes life gets crazy these days and it will be either Johnny or me who is "in charge" of Arlis on any given day. During the week it's mostly daddy and on weekends it's mostly mommy. But in the evening, when we're all home and winding down, he'll go and get a book, climb into our bed right between us, look up at us with those big brown eyes and say, "We're together!" He notices. He notices when we don't all take the same car. He notices if one of us isn't at a meal. I never told him that togetherness was the way it's supposed to be. I never taught him to look for it or want it. He just knows.
|Quest togetherness, remembering our friend Tony Torres|
|An oldie but goodie of our family togetherness.|
Togetherness is special. And we were created for it. God made us to have fellowship with other people. To communicate with each other. To share ideas, to create, to laugh, to cry, to feel, to be. To help and to be helped. To love and to be loved. Life wasn't made to be lived alone. It's sink or swim but you weren't meant to swim by yourself. We were meant to do this together. And now we have a new season of togetherness with Discover Family Church. For me it's exciting to have this feeling again. To be a part of this growing community, with friends old and new. My heart just explodes every week when I see all of these inspiring, talented, hardworking people who are now part of this togetherness. It's real. It's happening. And, as Arlis would say, it's very very beautiful. :)