I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you ~ Philippians 1:3-4
Occasionally, I will get a random text on a Wednesday or Thursday. It is a request from the leader of a drum corp, made up of college age young men and women. Their hope is that they will be able to descend upon my house with a day or so’s notice. Twenty to twenty-five youth will arrive around 1 AM Saturday morning and be gone around eight hours later, only to repeat the same pattern after midnight. Our paths crossed when the group wanted to use the church last summer and then again in this fall. The church can be a complicated space for a large group of unchaperoned young men and women- requiring supervision that no adult is really excited to undertake. Instead, I offered up my place.
It’s been awhile since I had teenagers in my house. I forgot how they never turn off lights, no matter how many notes you leave. I forgot how their gangly bodies drape over the furniture as they sleep. How they arrive with sleeping bags and snacks and take over the basement, filling every possible space. Within minutes of their arrival, they seem to infuse a room with a particular pungency- a mix of hormones, sweat and long days on the practice field. Like my own son, they really don’t need me. I learned that the first time around, when I made a huge breakfast and they shared that they already made plans to meet for breakfast. I was try’n to be their momma, even though they didn’t ask. They come and go, and afterwards I move from room to room turning off lights. Like the old days.
This last weekend they were here again. We went through our ritual: a text on Wednesday, me furiously cleaning Friday, then holing myself up in my room before they arrive. I always get up early Sunday morning to leave for church, when everyone is still asleep. When I entered the kitchen, I noticed a card & envelope on the table. I left it there and readied my dog’s breakfast before exiting.
When I arrived back home eight hours later, a card was sealed in its envelope and lying in the same place. There was no name on it; presumably because they don’t know my name, just the code to the garage door. I broke the adhesive seal and opened the card. Immediately, I was overwhelmed by the sentiments expressed to a person they really didn’t know. Like a card written by one’s young child, the card had a few greasy fingerprints on it amongst the expressions of thanks. That made me laugh.
I am terrible about writing thank you notes. Really horrible. It’s my great shame that I never sent thank you notes after my wedding. I began them but never finished. I had gratitude in my heart and good intentions, regardless I never followed through to share my thankfulness. The words Thank You hold a great amount of power. In print, they rarely relay the depth of one’s emotion, or lack thereof. And yet, when we know the author of the words- be it an itinerant evangelist and apostle like Paul or an anonymous group of young men and women- we know the heart that speaks.
I was surprised by the card. It wasn’t necessary, but I was touched. For all the hassle of last minute arrangements, cleaning my house, and losing sleep when my garage door opens and closes continuously at 1 AM, having them here reminds me of my son’s teenage years when the basement was full of rambunctious teens. Wonderful memories of feeding hungry boys-making pancakes for breakfast and cookies for snacks, hollering for the music to be turned down and encouraging them not to abuse one another physically.
Oh, and turning off the lights. They never turned off a light either.