The nature of summer is that it makes us richer in what matters.
One reason I know this is that I got to dance outdoors last night in the Columbia Gorge. The warm air held my body like a lover. I was swooning, I was so relaxed. Only in summer can this sensation happen, at least here in the cool, rainy Northwest.
Nothing makes me happier than doing a tribal stomp with my friend Colleen, in a land of tawny-gold hills, to songs like “Hot Blooded” and “Feels Like The First Time”. This was at the Foreigner concert at Maryhill Winery in Goldendale, Washington.
And let me just say right now that Foreigner is one of the top five rock bands of all time. My brother Mick concurs. Feel free to name your own top five rock bands in comments, but don’t expect me to budge on Foreigner’s place in the pantheon.
Another reason Foreigner is great is that they brought the Goldendale high school choir up onto the stage to sing “Waiting For A Girl Like You” with them. I call that giving back. I call that creating community, even for a brief moment in time. I call it urging the younger generation forward. This is the way I try to live, too. Foreigner rocks.
Besides giving us outdoor concerts, the nature of summer is that it spurs hospitality, the opening of our homes to each other. This relates to the way we travel in summer.
The summer of 1980 I was 19 years old, traveling the country with my backpack. I was making my way from the wheat farm in Kansas where I’d worked to later start in at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
Exactly 34 years ago today, the LaRue family had me over for Sunday dinner. This was in the small town of Houghton, Michigan, on Lake Superior. The LaRues didn’t know me from Eve. But their son Rick, 22, had given me a ride up from Wisconsin the day before. That was enough for them to invite me for dinner.
The LaRues’ warm hospitality in 1980 made me rich in what matters. I was far from home, and a dinner with a family meant a great deal to me. They even invited me to take a shower, which I did. I have always remembered them with a sense of blessing.
Part of my diamond-cut life mission is to emulate people like the LaRues. That means I share hospitality every chance I can find. Right now my husband and I have Aswan staying with us for two weeks through a leadership program of the World Affairs
Council. Aswan is from Kurdistan, just north of Iraq.
Please stay with me as this blog post takes a turn in direction. Our house guest Aswan learned this morning that his family back home has had to evacuate their village because Muslim militants from Iraq are invading it. He and his family are not Muslim. Here is the New York Times coverage of this.
“If you won’t convert to Islam, they don’t just kill you. They cut you into pieces,” Aswan tells me matter of factly. He speaks without a trace of self-pity.
I look at Aswan, horrified. I am speechless. I feel like I am talking with someone in his 30′s. Aswan is 17 years old.
Aswan knows he is welcome stay with us as long as he likes. But he says he is determined to reunite with his family when his leadership program is over on August 15th. It is completely unclear, though, where he and his family will live. “We have to leave our country,” Aswan states calmly.
The nature of summer for Aswan is nothing like the nature of my summer. But my husband and I could not be more blessed than to be offering hospitality to him.
What do you experience as the nature of summer? What is the most meaningful hospitality you have ever given or received? On a lighter note, what is your favorite rock band? Be careful not to dis Foreigner.