Two-year-old Timmy McLaughlin's eyes widened, and a look of surprised delight spread over his face, as David Fitch set a match to the logs he had piled high in the old fireplace. It was Timmy's first bonfire—and the last event of a long and wonderful day.
The occasion was Sojourners Community's celebration of its first 10 years in Washington, D.C. We had ventured out of the city on a warm September afternoon to Dayspring, a retreat center run by Church of the Saviour.
We exercised our last burst of summer stamina and closed out a grand season of volleyball that afternoon with marathon matches we modestly dubbed "The Volleyball Championship of the Universe." The children rode bikes, picked apples, and wandered over to greet a variety of animals by the Dayspring farmhouse.
Dinner was a feast. A crew of community chefs kept watch over a long grill loaded with chicken and fish. Baked potatoes, cole slaw, corn on the cob, and watermelon rounded out the menu. Surprisingly enough, everything was ready at just about the same time, despite the fact that the corn refused to boil.
Before we all sat down to eat, Jim Wallis led us in a prayer and some reminiscing. We recalled that Michael and Nathan Tamialis, now 11 and 10 years old, were just infants when the community took a trek and made Washington its new home; none of our other children were on the scene at all. We thanked God for a decade of growth, struggle, and joy—and for the chicken. Then all of us gathered around one long family table we had made out of several smaller ones.