I have long recognized that crossing over a border, be it between Georgia and Florida, or Germany and Switzerland, meant that I was going to happen up a people of a different sort. While it is true that people are people wherever you go, the manifestation of their peopleness is shaped by many things — traditions; religion, or the lack thereof; history; the foods they have available to them; and even the vegetation that surrounds them.
I have been to cities where beauty is a priority for its citizens. They build city budgets around the changing of flowers rather than the changing of the guards. I have long observed that the cities in the US who invest in the arts and make the arts a priority do better economically than other cities, who have no vision for such things.
I have watched as Birmingham, Alabama reimagined itself and transformed from a town of steel industry to a destination city. On the West Coast, I watched as Joseph, Oregon reimagined itself from an economically depressed logging community to a hub for writers and artists, and tourists.
Basel, Switzerland is a hub for artists. Our friend Rick, who is an artist, explained that Art Basel draws artists and buyers from around the globe. Some 300 galleries show the best of the best and tens of thousands of people come in to not only look at art but to buy art. The Basel airport will receive hundreds of private jets during Art Basel, as dealers and buyers emerge upon the town.
Basel is an international city. As we walked through the market plaza, Latin musicians were on the plaza performing on behalf of Amnesty International.
Even Basel Minster has reimagined itself from a Catholic church to a reformed Protestant church. It has been around since 1019 in one form or another.
And, yet, here inside the walls of this cavernous church, it is not at all uncommon to run into people with whom you share a history.
And, no, I’m not just talking about these two fellows, albeit, Tim and I are celebrating 35 years of marriage and I have known Rick Holladay even longer than I have known Tim. Rick, after all, is the fellow who introduced me to Tim all those many years ago at Oregon State University, where we were all involved in one fashion or another with Campus Crusade for Christ.
I adore these two men for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is the way in which they treat others with dignity, and honor God by being thoughtful, creative souls.
But I also love that Rick and Tim bring out the sense of adventure and playfulness in each other. With each other, they will always be the boys they were when they first met as undergraduates at Judson Baptist in Portland, all those many years ago. The memories they share span beyond a time of when I existed to either of them.
I don’t know another soul who could persuade Tim to strip off his go-to-town clothes and swim the Rhine river, in the middle of town, before God and Helvetia.
But I am convinced that we all need friendships like that in our lives. Friends who although they have such a long history with us, are always willing to help us reimagine ourselves in new and adventuresome ways.
Who is the friend that inspires you to adventure?
Or gives you protection when life is too harsh?
Who is the friend who comes alongside you simply to share another story?
Who is the friend who points out when you are headed in the wrong direction?
Who is the friend who leads you to places of renewal and refreshment?
Who is that friend who has crossed waters, deep and wide, at your side?
We are leaving The Art Factory in Kandern, Germany, and our friends, today. We are off on another adventure, this one full of new promise. We are headed to Paris, and then, on Tuesday, to Normandy. I hope wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you have good friends at your side.
I leave you with these words from Raymond Carver: “And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so? I did. And what did you want? To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved upon the earth.”