Four and two fifths make seven

SLEEPOVERS? REALLY?

Guys don’t do sleepovers. Or so I thought reading A Plan this morning . . . until I stopped to think.

Four (4) ‘Old Dogs’ (seminary classmates who have maintained friendship through the years) do five-night sleepovers every year. Once there were seven (7). Now there are four (4).

Photograph of four 'Old Dogs' with holding a picture of Wayne Boulton.
Four ‘Old Dogs’ (L to R): Harry, Gordon, Don, Bob, with photograph of Wayne (RIP).

THE ‘GATHERINGS’

We arrive at the annual ‘Gatherings’ limping on replaced knees with hips and memories in need of repair, bearing matches to light the fire, a Book of Common Prayer, and a Fifth or two . . . to make four equal seven again.

There’s nothing like a sleepover celebration with old friends. Some are confident that the departed — Wayne, Steve, and Dale — are still with us around the fire. Others need the help of a Fifth or a few Seven-and-Sevens to get four to equal seven.

Original ‘Chicago Seven’ Gathering (L to R): Old Dogs Wayne Boulton, Harry Strong, Yours Truly, Steve Shoemaker, Dale Hartwig, Don Dempsey, Bob Young.

What I had come to know (by feeling only) was that the [GATHERING]’s true being, you might say, was a sort of current, like an underground flow of water, except that the flowing was in all directions and yet did not flow away. When it rose into your heart and throat, you felt joy and sorrow at the same time, and the joining of times and lives. To come into the presence of the [Gathering] was to know life and death, and to be near in all your thoughts to laughter and to tears.

Wendell Berry, “A Gathering,” Jayber Crow, p. 205-206.

Thanks to Beth of ‘I didn’t get my glasses on‘ for turning Gatherings into sleepover celebrations.

Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, November 23, 2019.

7 thoughts on “Four and two fifths make seven

    • Jim, I couldn’t agree more. Dale served only ONE church after ordination — a small one in a small town where he had coffee as just another guy at the town coffee shop and returned to his Study to prepare the next sermon by res NT reading and exegeting them in Greek without calling attention to the discipline and depth of his scholarship. I have a collection of Dale’s poetry and treasure it, as I do the life work and memory of the more widely known Dogs, Steve (“Shoe”) and Wayne. As you say, all three were strong gentle men who honored some of us lesser lights with steadfast friendship.

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  1. Gordon, love “the plan” and our Gathering sleepovers. I’m looking forward to the next planned one in 2020, “On Golden Pond.”

    Giving thanks for each day and for good and everlasting friends like you and the 7 Gathering Dogs!

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