Lynne and I are nearing the end of one of the more interesting vacations we’ve ever had. We are in the mountains of Colorado with pretty much nowhere to go and not much to do–perfect! Time has slowed down in our little hillside cabin, and I’m sure we’ll be in for a jolt when we get back to Seattle on Monday.
I said we were doing little, but that’s a bit of a fib. Lynne and Kurt, her funny and fascinating border collie, have been involved in two dog trials (not a legal innovation but rather a sheepherding competition), including the national championship (!) In fact, as of this morning, Lynne & Kurt made the semi-finals, which is a bit like Hoosiers since Lynne only does this as a hobby. Meanwhile, Scott remains sitting at the kitchen table, trying to write a book (I am now aiming for finishing at Christmas).
With these sheepherding dogs, you hear a subtle debate woven through the comments handlers make to one another–is it the handler that makes the performance great, or the dog? Can a dog of great breeding overcome the shortcomings of a novice handler? Is it vice-versa? Lynne and I were chatting about this a few days ago and I remarked, based on what happens in marriage therapy, “I think there’s a ‘third thing’ at work–the partnership, which transcends the elements that compose it. We’re fond of saying, in therapy-land, that 1+1= 3: there’s you, there’s me, and there’s WE.
Partnership: it’s a big value here in Seattle. It may be one of the most beautiful things about this church. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s about, as the Chinese say, “Yat Chaih”–together. We’re better together–as a ministry staff, as leadership teams, in our marriages, in our families. So as the fall unfolds, think about the Partnerships in your life. We’re often focused on “my growth, my goals,” and rightly so, but think carefully, as the season changes again, about the partnerships you’ve neglected and the ones you want to forge (or re-forge). That’s the joy of sheepherding. And the joy of Grace, which tears down the barriers between partners.