In 2004 Alice and I took a vacation to New Orleans. On our way down south, we stopped in Cincinnati, a city we did not know at all, to visit the Church of the Redeemer for the first time.
This is the church where Alice would be working soon. First, she would be commuting down on weekends, but later we would be moving to Cincinnati. I knew going in that this place was going to be a central fixture in my life, and that gave me an odd perspective as I walked in the first time. I tried to wrap my head around the fact that, one day, every detail of this building would be familiar to me. Even more difficult to imagine, I would know these people, the people who at that moment were just nameless faces in a crowd.
We got lost in the building. It was maze-like, and we got to church late, but fortunately nobody noticed, because it’s a big church and we sat in the balcony. I was wrong, thinking that every detail would soon be familiar to me; shortly after that they began construction, and by the time we moved to Cincinnati the building was completely different. But I was right about the people.
We made many friends at Redeemer, over the course of next five years, but the ones that made the strongest impact on me were the members of a group called CORE. Alice was in charge of young adult ministry, and she started CORE shortly after she began working there.
I was active in the group for years, but oddly enough, it became an even more important part of my life after Alice and I left Redeemer. We stayed involved in the group, and now that Alice was no longer in charge, she could focus her time on making pie. She made a different kind every week; it was a golden age.
Every Tuesday night we met at Mark and Jill’s house. It became fixture of my week, a time I could relax, get together with friends, have a good conversation, and eat pie. We planned events, we went on trips . . . those were good times.
But we kept having kids, and life got more and more complicated, and eventually the weekly Tuesday night meetings just weren’t viable anymore. We made a last ditch effort, at the end, but then Jackson was born, and Alice and I were too busy, and it came to an end.
When CORE stopped meeting regularly it broke my heart. For a long time, it felt weird not to have anything scheduled on a Tuesday night. It left a hole in my life. There are still CORE events, but since we no longer go to Redeemer, we aren’t as involved as we used to be, and we don’t see the others nearly as much as we used to. Ross doesn’t even live in Cincinnati any more. It’s sad, but you carry on, and eventually it started to feel normal to make plans for a Tuesday night.
Don’t get me wrong, I value the friendships I made, and I still see my CORE friends periodically. The thing I miss—the thing so many of us miss, in the world today—is the sense of community, the sense of feeling that, despite your individual differences, you are all connected to one another and there to help each other out as needed. That and the pie.