It was a warm summer night about a year ago. I was house sitting, curled up in a chair reading. The window was cracked open so I could enjoy the evening air. A few chapters in, my mind was torn from the drama on the page by the faint strains of music wafting through breeze. After pausing to get a better listen, I realized I knew the tune. It was a praise and worship song. Curiosity got the better of me and I untangled myself from the pile of puppies that surrounded my feet to look out the window and see what was going on.
It was such an endearing scene. A group of people was gathered in front of the house next door. They had built a fire, and were just sitting around enjoying each other's company. Some people were sitting on the porch, others were gathered by the fire. One guy had a guitar, and he was leading the song. A few others were singing with him, even providing harmony at times.
Despite the song that caught my ear, it became quickly apparent that it wasn't a serious night. The song dwindled to silence and a new one started. One that quickly turned silly. The main singer changed the lyrics (inserting names and jokes and such) and it quickly became a group effort -- equal parts singing and laughter.
I settled back into my chair and let the sounds of their friendship become the soundtrack of my night. It made me think of memories I treasure -- Of a summer when we lost power at church camp and just sat around singing and goofing off. Of impromptu moments in the hallways at Winterfest. Of bonfire singing and smores at Arlington Echo. Of late nights with "Mike and the Ferrantes" in a living room in Columbia.
They had no idea of course, but their fireside music filled me with hope. To know that the cycle continues. That there's a new generation of people that love Jesus, but who obviously love each other too. That know how to have fun and not take things so seriously. That change song lyrics and mix pop songs with praise and worship. That stay up way too late and fill their nights with laughter and conversation.
Faith. Friendship. Fire. ...hope for the future. (Passing the torch?)
Later, I learned that house is some sort of halfway home. I don't know why, but that just makes the hope burn all the brighter.