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20160512_211307Jen took the children and went to Iowa to visit friends. So, what does a husband and father of four do while all are away?

He dons the chainsaw, preps the 2-cycle bladed trimmer, and fuels the lawn mower. He then proceeds to start chopping things up and running things over until he has a clear trail to the river.

And why such savage manliness? So he can drag his canoe to the water and set sail for a few hours, taking along a fishing pole and some bait, leaving behind the lonesome solitude of a huge house fallen dreadfully silent.

Can you tell I miss them? And yet, I didn’t necessarily let anyone know I’d be alone for the four days of Memorial Day weekend. Not because I was avoiding pity driven invitations, but because for the first time in about 12 weeks, I actually didn’t have anything consuming the weekend, and if I couldn’t be alone with my family, I was going to be alone with myself – thinking, writing, blazing trails – doing whatever I felt like doing and nothing more. The demands are far too great for one man in the everyday churn of pastoral life. As far as this weekend goes, I exist to and for no one. Theologically speaking, I’ve gone up on the mountain to pray, which means I intend to rest.

Don’t forget I’m surrounded by a few hundred bottles of whisky. In that sense, I have plenty of friends, some of whom I’ve yet to actually meet, but to whom I fully intend to introduce myself.

20160527_210741Last night I ran into the Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon and managed a rather pleasant conversation. We spoke of time well spent in the woods – moving timber, dragging mangled branches, cutting back a marshland floor of cat tails, sedge, and milkweed – until a thoroughfare for a dutiful reverend and the deer that live behind his home was clean and qualified. We sang of those we love, loneliness, and the sounds of a great domain creaking in the darkness. We sat together as I typed away, AC/DC blaring in the stereo speakers until 2 a.m., taking the chance that the neighbors might hear the disquietude.

It was a calming surrender, one that smelled of cocoa butter, sanding sugar, and freshly cut oak. It sipped with an anointment of oily sweat, cinnamon-spiced maple syrup, and berry relish.

Of course, as the evening came to a close, it was necessary to part ways. The finish was a medium handshake of wood char and distant sun-ripened wild cherries.

The Eagle Rare is a kindly gent with whom I am quite pleased to share my seclusion. I recommend his comity and I look forward to future symposia.