Sunday, April 26, 2009

An Evening of Gentility

Last weekend John and I were part of something that is quite unusual in our modern culture--an evening of gentility. He teaches at Veritas School, which provides a classical education for kindergarten through twelfth grade. Yes, they even learn Latin!

The biggest social event of their year is Protocol. This is something that all high schoolers can attend, but is in honor of the seniors. Seating is limited, so not all staff are invited. But John and I received an invitation this year, and it was a joy to participate.

It was held at the country club in Wilsonville. All the girls wore floor-length gowns in spring colors. No blacks. We women could wear knee-length dresses, which was a blessing for me since I'm so tall it would be nearly impossible to find a long gown. The boys and men all wore suits and ties.

Round tables for eight were covered with crisp white tablecloths, a beautiful arrangement of flowers gracing the center. Each table was hosted by a senior student, who was responsible to see that the conversation didn't lag. We had no problem with that at our table! John and I were the only adults and really enjoyed the students we shared the four-course meal with.

So what made this evening so genteel? The gorgeous setting certainly helped. The teens were polite and showed wonderful manners. The males at each table rose whenever a woman stood to leave or return to the table. I've never seen that happen any place but in books! Toasts were made to each senior, often by a younger brother or sister. The sentiments were heartfelt, often resulting in tears by the honoree, and sometimes by the person offering the toast. And the dancing--it was like nothing I've seen outside of movies. The young ladies stood on one side of the room, the young men on the other. They would approach the women and ask for the "pleasure of this dance" then escort them to that side of the room when the dance was through, and tell them thank you.

The dancing itself was very unusual, in a good way. It began with the Grand March, which was like something out of Jane Austen. There was a grand promenade, with weaving back and forth, in and out, between the other couples. They did the Virginia Reel, an Irish dance, and a waltz. No bodies pressed closely together, feet barely moving. Nothing like the sensual atmosphere that permeates most dances nowadays. The whole event was done so well--everyone had fun and it honored Christ. I hope we get an invitation again next year!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mystery Weekend Revealed

More than two months ago, before all the upheaval in our lives, John called me from school to ask if I would like to get away for a few days. I'm always up for that! After looking through our calendars, we realized that Easter weekend would be our best opportunity. He didn't tell me where we were going, but that's okay--I like surprises!

A few days later the breakup of Christina's marriage occurred, as well as the ensuing concentrated work of getting the house up on the market. I've worked extremely hard for many weeks, and have felt on the brink of exhaustion. Knowing I had a "mystery date" coming up was one of the things that kept me going.

John and I left mid-afternoon on Thursday and he started driving toward the coast. That's one of my favorite places to go, so I already knew his weekend plans were a success! As we drove through Lincoln City we passed several motels where we've stayed in the past, so I continued to be mystified. Imagine my surprise when he turned off Highway 101 into a gated community at Salishan. What? We didn't know anyone there! He slowly drove down the winding streets (at the posted speed limit of 18 mph it took seven minutes to arrive) and pulled in at a weather-glazed condo on the edge of the beach.

He unlocked the door and we entered a snug 2-story, 3-bedroom, 2-bath condo, decorated in the calming blues of the sea. The west side of the house was a wall of windows overlooking the beach, which was just over a hillock covered with beach grass. Turns out that a couple who are connected with the school John teaches at own the vacation house, and are extremely gracious about inviting friends to go enjoy it. I was nearly moved to tears by their generosity. On the table a bottle of sparkling cider waited for us, along with a gift certificate to a nice restaurant down the road. We felt as if God's blessings were pouring over our heads.

That night we used the gift certificate and ate a wonderful dinner at Tidal Raves in Depoe Bay. The sun was setting and John went outside to capture the beautiful evening.

Friday morning we awoke to sunny skies, which is not a given on the Oregon coast. We went for a long walk on the beach. (Kind of sounds like a singles ad, doesn't it?)

Late that morning I called Christina to tell her where we were and what we were doing. I said I hoped that sometime we'd get invited to come to the house again and maybe we could bring her and the kids with us. That it would give her some healing to her soul.

Around 7 p.m. John and I were preparing dinner together (an activity in The Love Dare book where we'd been held up for weeks) when there was a knock on the door. I asked him to answer it, but stuck my head around the kitchen corner to see who it was. Talk about a surprise! There stood Christina and the children!! They had been in on it from the beginning of the planning all those weeks ago! My joy was complete. John and I had had a wonderful time together as just a couple, and now we got to share it with some of the most special people in our lives. Andrea and Joshua could hardly wait to get down to the beach, and Christina's 2-year-old foster daughter (code name, Angel) was just as excited, though she had no idea what they were talking about since she'd never been to the ocean. (I wish I could share pictures of the kids, but we're not allowed to post photos of Angel.)

In spite of the windy evening, we all donned jackets and went out to introduce little Angel to her new surroundings. She was exuberant about it all. Every time one of us would talk about the waves, Angel would wave her hand. She wasn't afraid when she and Christina were surprised by a sneaker wave (or "sneaky wave," as Angel calls it) and were thoroughly doused by the freezing Pacific.

That night when we were all safely inside the warm house, Angel looked out the window and said, "Where the ocean go?" I explained that it was still out there but that we couldn't see it in the dark. Saturday morning she woke up, ran to the window and exclaimed, "The ocean comed back!"

Saturday was spent relaxing, playing games, and Christina and the kids and I going to the new Hannah Montana movie while John stayed home and practiced violin for his upcoming concert. We all went out for Chinese food that night, then watched a movie when we came home. The word for the day was "relax" and I learned it well.

The kiddos discovered Easter baskets waiting for them Sunday morning, which kept them busy while we packed up. We headed home through the rain, stopping at Church on the Hill in McMinnville to attend one of their four Easter services. (We weren't able to get back to our home church in time for their service.) It was a joyous time of celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and meditating on His goodness to us. I realized that He had prepared this special weekend away even before I knew I had need of it. The depth of His caring is unfathomable.