[Two academic years ago, on October 26th, 2014, my best friend and I embarked on something new and a bit frightening–we gathered together a small group of friends and kindred spirits, a heap of books by Tolkien and Lewis and other like-minded authors and poets, a sheaf of Irish drinking songs, many mugs of tea, and began what has become the Odd Society. We have gathered every other weekend for the past four semesters to read the great Christian authors and dive into Fairy-Story, to explore the reaches of imagination and Joy together. We have consumed gallons of tea and hundreds of scones, and sung many choruses of Saint Brendan, Black and Tans, Raglan Road, Wild Mountain Thyme. We’ve had a grand old time. Last night, April 30th, 2016, was our last meeting. We presented gifts to the people who have made our escapades possible, and enjoyed a meal together while we read and laughed and sang. The Odd Society may continue after Becca and I and the other Odd Society seniors graduate, and I hope it does. Yet though we may yet return to visit and rejoin our fellowship, we will never be there again the way we are now. Two years ago, I wrote about our first meeting. Here I write about our last. My friends, I wish that we could stay as we are for longer than we may. I have been blessed beyond measure to know you, and to share with you in this community.]
This laughter is unquenchable. I don’t know what is being read–none of us do. It’s ridiculous, and wild, and purple as the sunsets back home, in the gloaming after the red has faded and all that is left is deepening into the blue-black of star-filled summer and the crickets sing and the moon has not yet risen. Our laughter is like that–the rising of the moon in summer, shining a miracle path through the shadows of this room where we’ve dimmed the lights and shared a meal and looked into one another’s eyes and said it was good. It doesn’t matter what pages we turn, what words we lay out between us, what silly meanderings of someone else’s alliterations. We have the moon before us. I see it in our eyes, in the faces of this company, feel it in the depths of these souls that I love.
I take the book, will myself not to pause, hardly dare to draw breath between sentences. A smile could bring this crashing down, could split me into laughter and beyond it to the grief that we have come to know is hand-in-hand with our deepest Joys. I am not ready to go there yet. Let the book pass on.
I am surrounded and engulfed by this community we have built together. We draw near around these low tables, the old couch shining satin gold, exchange gifts. We are all of us catching the light of the moon in our eyes. I don’t want this to end. Neither do you. Neither do any of us. We embrace, and wish that we need never let each other go, pass on to the four winds and all the distance of the compass. Your tears, they too catch the light of the moon.
Later, our music echoes. We make the stairwell sing again, just like we did two years ago when this first began. Our voices reach up to Deep Heaven, and we see the melody in the stars, where it belongs. We finish one song and begin another, and another, unwilling to stop, reaching to draw the moments out longer, longer, fuller. And what longing I felt, what ache for my own solutions to the questions of Joy and the happy Turn that first night two years ago, is made complete. I have found my answer. I have found my own eucatastrophe, here, now, in this place and with you, my company. I realize that I am the wild thing, that you are the ones who have sat still and waited for me, have inched nearer to my side in the night, have tamed me with your patience, with scones and sweet bread and an orange scarf. We have been named together. And I see the Truth now, in what we have done together, and it is good. This thing we have done together, it is a miracle.
Together, you have turned my toska into hiraeth. You have given me a thing to ache after and taught me how to long. You have filled the emptiness of my soul, have made me yearn for one more go, one more month, one more moment. You have proved to me in my willfulness that I am not the only one, that you, too, are ensnared in this Joy, that this banquet we have made together will feed our minds and hearts. You have built yourselves around me and become my Fellowship.
And this is grace. This is thanksgiving. And now, somehow, this is a goodbye. The first of the goodbyes that really matters.
[Many thanks to Kenzie for helping take pictures]