i always struggle with going back to madison. all the great memories come rushing back and i find myself face-to-face with some of the best times of my life. i really love that place, and when i'm there and just can't escape the thought of, "why in the world did i ever move away from here?"
the last visit was no exception. first, the hospitality. one call to jon leads (him) to call chris & sara who then make arrangements with mary to make sure my wife and i have a great place to stay. how cool. thanks again to all of you! then we arrive at the pre-wedding party made up of a bunch of texans we really didn't know and abby. within minutes we felt at home, like we had all been friends for years. probably the only party i've been to where everyone there had at least a master's degree and most had phd's, and where the religious make-up was mostly left-leaning christians with a smattering of atheists.
the next morning i meet jon for a pancake breakfast and a couple hours of good conversation. he drops me off at the union where i spend the next couple hours reading on the terrace for my IB class. then i meet kara for lunch, and as we wander state st. looking for a good joint at which we can eat, we walk by some people setting up for a concert on the street...and it's marques! if you are not from the madison area, marques bovre is a local musician with a select, devoted following who has played fewer and fewer shows over the years. God really smiled on me at that moment. we hurriedly grabbed some fresh-mex and headed over to the show...over an hour of mostly new material with a new band. it was awesome.
after that, we went to maria and matt's wedding (the whole reason for our trip), which i can honestly say was one of the coolest (even though it was well over 90 degrees) weddings i have ever attended. held at a nature center just outside the city, it was a pretty casual affair with an incredibly inspiring cameo appearance by pastor rick, of past UCC/Hope Community fame. he spoke of simple living in the face of the demands and temptations of the culture, ultimately encouraging the couple and us all to live with "one handful and contentment." the food (all locally grown, in season, organic) and drink (spotted cow on tap!) were fantastic.
the lesson for me from this weekend was pretty simple: (as our pastor said on sunday morning) "life takes friends." i know, pretty earth shattering stuff...but it's true. life takes friends. it is fuller, richer, and more beautiful than life lived in isolation, or with mere acquaintences. the theme song for the golden girls is starting to play in my head...