This is a fern.
Larry gave it to my dad before his surgery for prostate cancer.
Before you saw awwww, let me explain.
A long time ago, my dad and a friend went to visit Larry in the hospital. As the entered, they stopped, “Should we have brought something? Like a plant?” Agreeing that yes, one should bring a plant to the hospital, the promptly stole one from the lobby.
A large one.
And it was attached to a small table. They stole that too.
Nothing says, “Sorry you’re sick, feel better soon, we love you,” like a stupidly large plant.
The hospital was not amused.
My parents have been friends with the old guard for 33 years. And some of them have been friends with each other for longer. They are the men and women who founded our church.
Also a long time ago, longer than 33 years, Protestant Christians began to dedicate their children. Mainly it was a response to the Catholic tradition of infant baptism. But it also has connections to scripture, like when Hannah was finally given Samuel and dedicates him to God. Now, years and years later, dedications offer a family the chance to publicly thank God for their child, pray for that child, and ask other Christians to support them as they parent.
Thirty years ago, the old guard are the people who said yes to supporting my parents as they raised me.
My memories with them are nearly innumerable– when Mary got up on waterskis at Havasu, when Sue and I worked the overhead projector on Christmas Eve for music, when Cathy would set aside flu vaccines for us and give them in her kitchen, when we’d head to Harold’s Bike Shop, which was actually called Roy’s.
I guess this sums it up: they threw me a baby shower. Twice. One for Riley, and one when my mother was pregnant with me.
So we gathered them, along with some other dear friends, to dedicate Riley. It was a perfect mix of special and casual. We made an obscene amount of guacamole (1 avocado per person= 40 avocados total. We actually bought 50, but a few we underripe), ordered tacos and enchiladas from the Mexican restaurant down the block, and put out cold drinks. Friends brought watermelon, and then ran back home again to empty their ice maker when we realized we were short.
But before the food, we piled into the living room. Curtis and I each shared just a bit of what we hoped for Riley. Me, that he would represent God’s compassion and kindness, Curtis, that he would be independent, able to hear God’s voice despite pressures from people or culture. Then we asked the group to pray for us, right then, and in the future.
We prayed together–thanks for this baby, give wisdom to us as parent, make Riley the man you want him to be. Most of all, may Riley come to love Jesus.
The next day, I also had to add a small prayer in my heart–give Riley the kind of community you gave me. I was raised by a great great group of people who love Jesus. They cared about me, remembered my birthday, asked about my volleyball games. Having an old guard is a pretty wonderful thing.
Amen. Bring on the guac.