Residents of our little village must have wondered what in heaven’s name was going on Sunday at Church Sweet Home.
We clanged the gong, a.k.a. rang the church bell, at least four times that day as we toured folks through our restoration project, a church converted into a home.
The tourists? Tyler’s extended family. We hosted the family reunion of the maternal side of his family, which meets every year at rotating locations. This year was his mother’s turn, and we offered to have her host it at our house.
So 48 folks showed up from North Carolina, South Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois and as far away as Hawaii.
It was raucous and beautiful and strange. After a year and half of staying away from people, we mingled unmasked in the house, in the garage and in the yard; dipped spoons into communal potato salad and baked beans; and breathed the same air. How familiar and weird. I loved it.
As I sat in a lawn chair in the yard surveying the crowd, I wondered if the Methodists who used to occupy our church building ever had a picnic here. The scene reminded me of Georges Seurat’s iconic work, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884 (an oil painting in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago). “Bedlam,” “scandal,” and “hilarity” were among the epithets used to describe what is now considered Seurat’s greatest work, according to the Art Institute. We reunion-ers didn’t have a lake or parasols, but we did have a dog and ladies in hats. No bedlam here (though a six-year-old hanging onto the bell pull was lifted off the ground at one point in the bell-ringing, to my great surprise!).
Besides tours for the adults (and some inquisitive children—I just love second graders), Tyler manned the grill for lunch, and we offered sidewalk chalk and a bubble machine for the kids.
We also provided a photo opportunities. We offered folks the chance to dress up as Jacob Blair IV, Tyler’s great-great-great-grandfather, and I also took a photo of the whole Blair clan from the belfry window. It was fun.
I even chose a quote about family for the church sign.
Sunday’s gathering is exactly the type of event for which the church was originally designed—a large group of people meeting for fellowship and in love. I am so grateful we can gather again safely.