Those were the days, my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
Those were the days
Oh, yes, those were the days.
~ Those Were the Days, credited to Gene Raskin and popularized by Mary Hopkin
It was one of those seasons when life was so good it never occurred to us it wouldn’t go on forever.
We were a large circle of church-goers, an adult Sunday school class for Young Marrieds. Like attracting like.
Most of us didn’t have children yet but that was only a matter of time. Soon enough ours lives were a reign of baby showers and shuttled meals and happy visits to the hospital.
We worshipped under the teaching of a man on a pedestal and if the church doors were open, we were there. Often and eagerly, we served the Body with our time and talents and dollars and cents.
All that togetherness, and friendships were inevitable.
It was our Camelot.
When my pastor and his wife offered use of their family mountain house, I jumped at the opportunity. Though our friendships were still in their infancy, we rounded up half a dozen couples and headed for the hills.
God, it was fun.
In the mornings we cooked the kind of breakfasts that Cracker Barrel could only hope for. There wasn’t such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen, more were merrier. We settled into roles of prepping and cooking and cleaning, and it was all for one and one for all… and all was good. We hiked the mountain, and on the most special of days, we were treated to a peregrine falcon air show.
God met us in the high places where the view, shockingly beautiful, silenced the collective.
We were grown men and women rediscovering the art of play, and I do mean play. Softball, Hide and Seek–the house was full of great spots–cards, and floor shows. The guys and girls would team up and create something fun and then we’d perform for each other. Nights were magical.
We decided our tribe needed a name and we brainstormed and sifted ideas. Cliffhangers was the clear winner.
There was something sacred about those weekends, the kind when hearts are knit in tight stitches, when friendship’s roots burrow deep.
Of course, the relationships weren’t only confined to those special weekends. Back home, it spilled over into dinner dates and play dates and shoulder-to-shoulder church service.
We were so eager and committed and…proud.
Over the course of several years, we’d make those mountain retreats enough times that I lost count and they blurred together. Though the initial core of friends remained, some would drop out and new ones would fill their place.
I am beyond thankful social sharing didn’t exist. There is little doubt at least some of us would have unintentionally flaunted what we had–an incredible friend/faith community.
These weekends away meant we weren’t at our home church on Sunday mornings, obviously missing Sunday school, too–the place where we all met in the first place.
Plenty of class members showed up on those Sundays, though. The Cliffhangers’ absence filled the room the way silence deafens. The void must have shouted lies to questioning hearts but I stuck my fingers in my ears and refused to hear it.
What happened next has had profound, life-lasting affect…. Continue reading When Community Cliques, published earlier this week at Deeper Story.