As I was looking up dinner recipes tonight, Mike called down from the bedroom,"Do you want to go to dinner with Eric Metaxas tonight?"
Um, what?! I mean, say what?! And a what the what?!
My evening was about to get Very Interesting.
I laughed and said (or squealed),"Are you serious? How is that possible?"
I don't think he ever answered me; he just said,"Do you want to or not?" Well. Let me see. I'll have to think...
Apparently the Reverend Doctor has connections and affiliations that I did not even know to begin to reckon to consider. There are perks to being married to such a man. I tossed my computer (and my intent dinner planning) aside because a more pertinent task lay before me: I needed to figure out what to wear.
The short version of this part of the story is nine outfits later I was at the back door with my our my our book in hand. (The extended version, but still not the long version goes like this: I settled the kids' sitter. I tried on all of my dress pants and none of them fit. I decided on a brown pair that were the least non-fitting, along with a pretty peach/coral/red flowy top. Mike wasn't sure how to match his attire with my top. I put on a sweater-set instead. I didn't like it. I decided I had better get my legs in order so that I could wear one of the only dresses that I felt would be appropriate in a fancy club [not a bar kind of club, but not exactly a country club] [it could have been a country club, I have no idea, actually] and which fit. I put my hair back a little [I even brushed it! Fancy dinner!] and added a bit of moisturizer to my face. Voila! I was ready! Between the Adventures in Outfits April Edition and brushing my hair, I stuck a pizza in the oven for the kids. It was ready just before we had to leave. Voila! Dinner for the children!)
In the midst of all my rushing around, I stopped to ask Mike if this was a late April Fool's joke. He assured me it was not. Off I went.
Finally, Mike and I peeled out of the driveway and headed to dinner. We arrived at the club and joined those who were already there; we were a party of seven. (Of course.)
I was one of two women at the table. It was such an honor to have been invited. I sat and listened to the conversations that were taking place, and the gentleman to my right was kind and asked me some questions about myself, Mike and I, and Mike's job. Mr. Metaxas spoke to the entire table for a time about some projects he is involved in and other topics, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ha!). He and another gentleman at our table talked about President Bush (George Dubbya) (they've been in his office, talking with him, you know, discussing the stuff you might discuss should you find yourself in the office of one of our country's previous presidents) (How in the world did I end up at this table with these people?); President Bush is highly regarded by them, and apparently has quite the sense of humor. I like to know this. Humor-I dig it.
Suddenly, Eric (we're on a first-name basis at this point) leaned forward and pointedly asked Mike and I how we met. And there we were in the spotlight for a minute. I was rather calm, all things considered. The story of our meeting brought a couple of laughs. (Mike likes to say that he saw me when I was introduced as a Bible study leader at the first IVCF meeting of that school year and decided to join my Bible study right then.) We took turns sharing a little about ourselves (those at the table now know the rather ridiculous fact that it took me five years plus one P.E. class, which took another semester, to graduate from college) (but I did manage to squeeze in the fact that I was an English major, which is something that Mr. Metaxas and I have in common) (I was kidding about the first-name basis), and Mike also spoke about his dissertation and his job at our church.
I ate one of the best steaks I have ever had in my life. And some key lime pie.
I wish that we could have sat and talked, and listened some more, for so much longer. It was absolutely wonderful, delightful, and just plain fun. Tentatively, I asked Mr. Metaxas if he would mind signing my book. He graciously did so, and then even agreed to a picture.
I was able to take a few minutes and tell him some of the things that I loved most about his story of Bonhoeffer, one being Bonhoeffer's sense of humor. He seemed to appreciate that. I told him that since finishing the book, whenever I pick it up again, looking at the cover, I think with great affection,"Look! It is my good friend, Dietrich!" I feel as though I was able to get to know this incredible, admirable man because of Eric Metaxas' skillful story-telling.
I still feel giddy just thinking about the opportunity that we had tonight. I'm amazed at life's timing; I happened to start reading the book along with the ladies over on Donna's blog a few weeks ago, and I was able to finish it just before Easter. Reading Bonhoeffer's story as I read Scripture and prepared for Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday was a profound experience. I pray that it was not just that, though. I long for it to be a shove in the right direction, down that path that I know I have been called to walk and which sometimes seems so daunting. With God's grace, Bonhoeffer was able to walk as one full of joy down a path which took him to Flossenburg where he would be hanged. Daunting is hardly a strong enough word for his journey. Another prisoner recalls him saying,"This is the end,...For me the beginning of life." His conviction that "we can transform death" was rooted firmly in the sure belief that God had done that work of transformation, conquering death itself, on the cross through the death of his son Jesus Christ and by his resurrection from the dead.
On our way to dinner, Mike and I drove past a young woman who looked like she was wearing everything that she owned, including an ivory winter hat with tassels hanging next to her cheeks, as she walked down the six-lane highway. We were silent a moment. I sat in the truck as we sped along (running late) thinking of how I had hurried around getting dressed, trying to figure out what to wear, what would look good enough, what didn't make me look horrible, and as I sat and thought about that after we had passed the woman, the irony struck me. If Bonhoeffer himself had been heading down the road on the way to our dinner and he had seen this woman, he would likely have stopped and had a conversation with her, and probably even made sure she had something to eat before he went on his way. I don't know what the two of us were supposed to do in that exact moment, but I do know that I want to be more intentional about doing the right thing in the coming days. Along with the remarkable (and honestly, strange...to whom do these things happen?!) and unexpected meeting tonight, I will also remember this young woman. I hope I do not forget any of it at all, in my being, and in my doing.