And maybe this is discipleship, their dear faces in a soft light, cast from a lamp which is perched on a wooden crate.

Several quilts are spread over soft grass.  We are partially canopied by a large oak tree, but we can still see the stars.  Some lounge on their sides, some sit cross-legged.  Others relax into wooden rocking chairs or prop one ankle on the opposite knee in canvas camp chairs.

Convivial words and phrases bubble into the air.  It feels like a gathering of old friends, but we have only known you really for a matter of months.

Human voices rise and fall, interweaving.  I pause outside of the conversation to note the melody, which has crescendos of laughter and in other moments, slows to silence.

We talk of their lover’s stories, their engagements and first meetings.  “It went like this,” she starts.  “He tied the ring to the end of a fishing line and cast it into the water.  When I came to sit beside him, he reeled in the line.”

We trip lightly over weighty theological matters, the Spartan military, and just war.  We even pause a moment to mention death, which oddly heightens the sweetness of the moment.  “Death is the beginning of morality,” one reports.

My mind flashes to that night in the upper room.   The similarity must be widely felt because, from a lounging position on his side, one jokingly lets out, “He who dips his hand in this hot chi will betray me,” as he raises his tin cup.  We chuckle but shudder.

Our plates are loaded with lemon-zested rice and chicken, topped with cashews and toasted coconut.  There is a burst of flavor on the tongue.  I linger over my meal and enjoy it in tempo with the leisurely conversation.

There are silly questions, “Did Adam and Eve fart before the fall?”  Everyone has a different opinion.  We share history-book scale plans for spoofs on the college campus we would pull off someday.  One tells of the time he planned a bike race that raged through the science center, the student center, and the heritage building.

In tribute to the memory, I let the whip cream spout rip and pile white clouds high over fudge drizzled ice cream.

As the night officially turns to morning, they begin to leave.  And we rise, each to embrace the other.  I hardly eek out a decent goodbye, but brother, sister, what I want to say is that I praise the good God who brought us together.