I guess you can tell a lot about a person by the places they like. Myself, I've never been too hip to the whole Cricket's scene. It's not (as it would have been a few years ago) the alcohol- it only takes one beer- don't ruin your witness- thing-- I've long since moderated my views on that. I guess it's just the oddness behind a place that is either meant for you to go meet people, or to hang out with people you already know. In the case of the former, I'd rather meet people inadvertantly through other friends, work, church, or a bookstore, than find someone who is looking for someone. It's like when you were in elementary school and you walk up to someone and ask them "Will you be my friend?" In the case of the latter (hanging out with friends,) I'm much more comfortable going to someone's house, or a public place that is known to few. It's so weird that the thing 20 somethings are looking for the most is uniqueness, but they end up all going to the same places.
All this led me to thinking of the places I like the most. If God were to destroy every place in the universe except these five, I'd be ok. So here they are:
5. Second floor indoor balcony in Feagin Hall at ETBU, Marshall, Texas.--// I lived in Feagin as a student, on the second floor, but never spent much time outside of my room. Years later, when I became the Director of Feagin, we decided to put some couches and chairs in the lobby on the second floor that hangs over the lobby. Some of the best talks I've ever had with people were done while sitting in area. I guess the mixture of being up very late at night mixed with it's proximity to people's living quarters made it ideal. Guys would come in late, which made it natural for you to ask "So, what'd you do tonight." Which would lead into some of the most meaningful moments of my life.
4. The Pit Grill, Collins Street, Arlington, TX--// This is the place that helped me fall in love with Greasy Spoons and embracing my imperfections. While spending a couple of weeks in Arlington in the summer of '96, this was the place Luke, Scott, and I would hang out. It was the seminal experience of me understanding how to live out my faith in story. I can probably trace the changes in my epistemology to this place.
3. Timberline Baptist Camp, Lindale, Texas--// I began working at Timberline when I was 16, and continued there, in one way or another, until until I was 22. It was at this place that I met my best friend, learned the proper way to mop a floor, raked up a yellow jacket's nest while being stung by 8 of them, fell out of a fastly moving truck- passing out and developing my only known scars to this date, learned how to live with people, got skin poisoning, learned to rappel, had my first experience working with kids, stocked vending machines, experienced digging for busted water lines in below-freezing weather, first heard about the calvinism-arminian argument, and basically learned how to create a home wherever I found myself. How could you not like a place that did all that, and so much more?
2. Any home that Tonly and Melissa Herring have lived in.--// At the beginning of their marriage, Tonly and Melissa prayed that their home would always be a place of comfort and blessings for others, and God has answered that prayer. Any time I walk into their house (wherever it has been,) I've experienced an extreme sense of peace come over me. I know that sounds kind of weird, and out of touch with my current vernacular, but it's my experience.
1. Cafe' in Torva, Estonia--// Torva is probably the most remote place I've ever been to. It's located in the forests of southern Estonia, about 90 miles north of the Latvian border. A village of around 300 inhabitants, it houses a cafe' outside the center of town. The cafe' was built into an old cave. To get in, you walk past the counter and down a series of steps to small rooms with couches. When I was there, I could imagine guys like C.S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien sitting around, smoking cigars, and discussing deep matters, and the even more important everyday matters. I guess what makes this place so special, is that it's unique to me. Few other people in the whole world has ever experienced the joy of sitting around reading and talking with friends in this place.