When we celebrated Mom & Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary last weekend, I was moved by this very sweet picture of my mom and her dad.

Dorsey King Barnes, fondly known by pretty much everyone as Corkey, was a much loved orthopedic surgeon in Dallas. If you’re headed to the Carrell Clinic, you will see his picture on the wall next to W.B. Carrell’s. He was dedicated to advancing technology and skill in the orthopedic arena as well as focusing on crippled children and their unique needs. He was the kind of doctor that lived to help anyone – a healer.

He was also a trader and businessman. He loved a good deal, and had quite the eye for development and livestock. He adored his wife, his son, and the apple of his eye, Sue (my mom). He and my grandmother maintained an open door policy. Everyone was welcome at their home … anytime. They even had a screened in porch with mattresses in case someone needed to spend the night. My grandmother relished the kids feeling right at home. She was always quick to point out that if you wanted something (a drink, food, conversation…) you’d better get or do it yourself because no one’s doing it for you. I think she made people feel at home that way. … and Corkie loved it.

In this picture, he’s standing tall, proud of his spot next to his beautiful daughter. Hidden from view are the crutches that supported his every step. When he was a child, an accident left his hips permanently damaged. With all the people he helped, he couldn’t heal himself. He died several months after this photo, but not before he had purchased a pony for his grandchild. My mom was pregnant with my oldest brother.

Even though I never met him, I’ve known him my entire life. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that Jon learned I never knew him. Thanks to the hours spent sitting with my grandmother at her kitchen table, listening to story after story (many repeated a zillion times), if he walked in our house, I would not be meeting a stranger.

So as I looked at this picture, I was reminded of an evening not long ago.

Jon & I have hosted different pastors visiting Dallas through a terrific organization called RREACH and their Global Proclamation Academy (GPA). Every summer for the last five years, they have brought pastors from all over the world, offering instruction, encouragement and fellowship at Dallas Theological Seminary. During their trip, they have the opportunity to meet and stay with folks in the area. A few of the participants have braved our family. At our house you get to see the good, bad and ugly … plus are bombarded with little faces early in the morning. No sleeping in around here.

This last summer, GPA had a reunion, inviting all of the former participants and their wives. Part of the festivities included an ice cream social so the pastors could connect in person with their former hosts. Since we had hosted six pastors (from Africa, South America and India), we jumped on the opportunity to catch up….Until we walked up to the desk to get our nametags.

Normally I don’t get nervous in situations. But for some reason, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to remember our friends. Communication has been extremely sparse for many reasons.

“Do you know who’s here?” I asked the gal checking in guests.
“No. We don’t have that list together. We do have the year book with everyone who has participated over the years on that table over there.” (That wouldn’t be much help … I needed to know who to look for that night.)
“You mean you’re not certain who has come?”
“I’m sorry m’am. I don’t have that information.”

My stomach sank. The room was packed. We had only met these people and shared life for a day and a half during their short visits to the U.S. How in the world would we remember what they looked like? What if they changed? What were their wives’ names? Will they remember us? Have we changed? Speed Police, with her tender heart incredibly excited to see these people who live and serve in some desperate parts of the world, accompanied us as we walked into the room and sea of people.

It was such an interesting experience. Joy exuded from the crowd. A feeling of familiarity was buoyed by bursts of laughter and waves of warm greetings punctuated by hearty pats on the back as reunions filled the air. I enjoyed watching those around us melt into this rare opportunity to unite with friendships founded on nothing more than the common union of Christ.

Walking in the room, we connected with one of our friends and his wife with whom we’ve kept close contact and expected to see. Delighted, we picked up right where we left off. Still, I was a bit distracted as I continued to wonder if any of the others had made the trek?

Within moments, I glance across the room to see Josue from Benign. His warm smile floated directly our way. It was as if he had been waiting all evening just for our arrival. He had been looking for us … anticipating our entry, focused on warmly greeting the guests for whom he had so patiently waited. Everyone around us disappeared as Speed Police & I made my our across the room where we genuinely reconnected as if no time had occurred since we last were together.

Soon after, we saw our friend Biggie from Botswana and were greeted in the same way. His wife embraced Speed Police as if she was seeing a long lost daughter. She whisked her upstairs and gave gifts specifically brought for her and her siblings. After Biggie, we saw Daniel (Peru) then Sheriff (India).The familiarity and heartfelt affection exchanged was beautiful.

The evening proceeded. We only had time to briefly catch up, but the moments were sweet. As we drove away from the reunion, I couldn’t help but think I had just experienced a little taste of what heaven must be like. Joy. Warmth. Expectancy. Focus. Purpose. Safety. Peace.

I couldn’t help but think of my grandfather, Corkie, as I let the evening’s picture sink in. I’m certain that he will be standing, waiting for me, eyes anchored on the entry as I search the crowd and catch his eye. Will I recognize him? Will the crowd melt away as I make my way to him? I don’t know, but it’s fun to think about.

When I saw this photo, enlarged at my parents’ celebration, I was reminded of my little taste of heaven that night. I gazed at the picture, settling on his proud, smiling face and looked forward to the day when I, like her, can reach up and kiss his face.

I’m then blown away as I consider greeting Jesus, melting into my chance to lean up and kiss the face of my Saviour.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

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