Our son Hans lives in England full time and is married to Katy, who was born and raised there. He first encountered Katy on a 5 month mission trip based in New Zealand, and by mid-way through those weeks, he knew she was the one-and-only for him.
Nate and I worried it might only be the equivalent of a summer camp romance that might fade after they returned to their native countries, but just the opposite happened. They’ve had a strong, Christ-centered marriage for 6 years now.
We four parents enjoyed developing relationships, too, experiencing many common bonds as we got to know each other. Cliff was a city lawyer like Nate, and both loved history. They, too, had a large family (5 children), and Sarah was an at-home mother, investing heavily in hearth and home as I had. Best of all, we related through our faith in Christ.
I remember our first visit to Katy’s childhood home. Sarah, who has always baked the family bread from scratch, had a stove/oven like I’d never seen before. Her “aga” was a wonder, always “on” with higher heat in some compartments than others. There was no temperature dial, but Sarah knew where to put her bread, where souffle cooked best, and where to gently warm leftovers.
Since Sarah chose not to have a dishwasher, the stainless bar across the front of the aga served as an ideal place to dry dish towels. Their well-used tea towels depicted places of interest the family had been, and I liked spreading them out to see. It didn’t take long for Sarah and I to establish a tea towel appreciation club of sorts, and since we first met, we’ve been sending interesting towels back and forth across the ocean.
Two weeks ago, a mysterious 6” X 9” envelope appeared in my mailbox with Sarah’s return address on it and nothing inside. Along with the customs stamp, air mail sticker, and “Royal Mail” label was a red ink stamp from our local post office: RECEIVED WITHOUT CONTENTS. No explanation was given.
From Sarah’s note on the customs sticker I saw she’d written “linen” and knew I’d missed out on another tea towel, along with a meaningful note that surely accompanied it. The empty envelope made me feel empty inside.
Life is full of empty experiences, most of them far more serious than an empty envelope. The Bible actually tells us to expect that kind of thing. Whether Sarah’s tea towel disappeared by accident or a misdeed we’ll never know, and “why-answers” about life’s other empty experiences usually aren’t forthcoming either.
But there is satisfaction in knowing that every empty feeling of human experience will one day be filled by God. And I believe (just for the fun of it) that he’ll even let us know what happened to Sarah’s missing tea towel.
“Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice.” (Hebrews 1:8)