Some small towns exhibit the traits of a bounded set. If you are from here you understand the boundaries, you know the familial connections, and you are aware of the “traditions” that should not be ignored. Moving into such an area can be tricky. A person needs a good guide, someone who knows the ropes.
Along the way I was privileged with several very helpful people. While I had spent time in two small, rural settings, each came with their own unique flavor. This “city boy” serving with a local congregation would need at least a few who wanted to do all they could to be sure the new pastor got off on a good foot, not just in the church but in the community. I am grateful for those who helped me. Surely that has something to do with enjoying 17 years here.
Thinking back over those years I was reminded of one of the first “insiders” I met who was not part of our congregation. I don’t mean “insider” in a derogatory way. I mean someone who knew the boundaries of our community, knew the familial connections, and was aware of the “traditions” that should not be ignored. Little did I know our first time encounter would, a number of years later, mean a valuable friendship.
We met at a pool party. Yes, I met Lyle Burris at a pool party. His son and our youngest daughter were in the same class. They would years later graduate high school together. Their teacher hosted an end of the year pool party. We sat and watched and chatted. I had heard of Lyle. There were Burris signs around town. No, he was not running for office. He built homes. We had been in Tuttle not quite two years. It was the spring of 1996.
I had no idea one day we would be good friends.