Yesterday after work I drove up to the other side of the Cities to spend some time with good friends. Way back in the day during my first year of seminary, I got to be good friends with some people through our weekly Thursday night television viewing parties. We got connected through a program at seminary that tried to connect single people with families on campus. My friend Erin and I, who lived in the dorms and were good friends, got connected to two married couples, Mike and Tammy and Nate and Jill respectively. Mike and Tammy had three boys and, at that time, Nate and Jill were childless. We'd get together and have dinner, and then we'd watch Survivor and Friends and ER. We'd get pretty intense while watching Survivor, trying to guess who was going to get voted off and rooting for our favorites. These friendships morphed into pretty close relationships, and involved fun things like me accompanying Mike and Tammy and their family on a trip to Disney World, and then living with them for a summer in Duluth while I did my Clinical Pastoral Education as a chaplain at Saint Mary's Hospital there.
Well, as people do, we all moved away from seminary. Erin moved to Colorado, Nate and Jill to North Dakota. Mike and Tammy moved up to northeast Minnesota and then, last but not least, I ended up moving to where I'm at now. But then, Mike ended up taking a call at a church here in the Cities. When they were looking for someone to head up their youth ministry staff, he called Erin and she interviewed and ended up moving here to work with him. So, except for Nate and Jill, our original Thursday night group is close together.
So I ended up driving up there last night. Of course, our TV viewing has changed. We didn't watch Survivor, because the new season hasn't started, and Friends, of course, has long ago ended. We've since added Grey's Anatomy to our roster of shows and now Private Practice. Although last night we opted to record Private Practice so that we could watch Aladdin. Josh, Mike and Tammy's middle son, tried out for his school's production of Aladdin and was given the part of Jafar. So we had cake and pop and watched the movie last night to celebrate. Erin and I performed a duet of "A Whole New World" but were given instructions that she was to sing the part of Aladdin and I was to sing for Jasmine. There are some great pictures that were taken, but they are on Tammy's camera. If I can get a hold of them, I'll be sure to share them. Though I should tell you now, the microphones we are using in the pictures are empty bottles of IBC Root Beer and NOT any sort of alcoholic beverage container. We were in complete control of our faculties when we did this...
Then the rest of our night was spent playing massive amounts of Mario Kart. This takes me back to my seminary days, as well, as a group of us who lived in the dorms would get together to play Mario Kart and other games. We would get pretty intense in these games and, when I'm playing the game with an 8th and 5th grader, I need to remind myself to not be as ruthless as I was against my seminary classmate friends! One of the other games we'd play in seminary was a James Bond shoot 'em up game. One time, when we were playing, we happened to notice that the character of M (I think) happened to bear a striking resemblance to one of our seminary professors. This made me love the character even more, so I would often play as that character. We then named several of the other characters after other seminary professors, and sometimes after particularly stressful classes or meetings with certain professors, we'd meet for some stress relief in our friend Kevin's room and take out our aggressions on these professors (often we'd do "slappers only" which meant there were no guns, so we'd run around and open-hand smack each other which provides tons of humor to the game). One day, while we were venting about a certain professor, Kevin happened to get a phone call. As he was on the phone, I may have shouted "Die [professor]! Die!" as I attacked the character with my slappers. Well, it turns out that the person on the other end of the phone happened to be the registrar of the seminary. I should point out that I had and still have a lot of respect for this particular professor and would never actually hope for them to die. I am not sure that violence is ever a good answer for anything, but sometimes video game violence can be helpful in dealing with stress.
Anyway, I guess this rambling mess of a blog entry is just to say that, in many ways, my current life is echoing my seminary experience. Sure the characters have changed, they've gotten older and maybe a bit grayer (or in my case balder), but we are still finding ways to get together, share in fellowship, support each other and play together.
It's been great.