I’ve been thinking a lot about those moments when life comes full circle. I’m not talking about births and deaths, but about all the small circumstances in between that serendipitously bring us right back to where we started — oftentimes when we least expect it.
Earlier this summer, I was sitting at the Great White Table in the Art House kitchen munching on Andi’s highly addictive freshly toasted pecans and sipping on watered-down Simply Lemonade. Charlie and I were taking a break from planning Art House Dallas and talking about one of his own recent experiences with life coming full circle.
This particular story involved a trip to Los Angeles and an unexpected reunion with his favorite 1976 Fender electric piano — one he had sold as a young musician trying to cover rent. The most amazing part of the story was not the number of years that had passed (32), or the distance the piano had traveled (from Northern California), but the location in which he was reunited with this beloved instrument (a garage). It turns out that three guys from The Daylights, a band he had been working with the last two years, had acquired the piano through a friend and wanted to show Charlie their new addition, not knowing it had once been his.
Like a time machine, this experience transported Charlie to past years and the magnificent way his circumstances were woven together for his good: as a musician, husband, father, producer, and now advisor to these talented young musicians not so different than he was when he first laid eyes on that Fender piano.
I love that our Creator would use a reunion with a vintage instrument to remind Charlie (and all of us) of the amazing ways He leads and shapes us over the years through His beautiful and creative control over every detail in our lives. Every step. Every relationship. Every possession. Every dream. Every plan.
Charlie’s story deeply resonates with me because I am a planner. It’s in my Type-A, independent, middle-child blood. I’m especially guilty of believing I have “creative control” over my life story, often forgetting the fact that this is my Creator’s specialty.
Almost two years ago exactly, I entered the Art House for the first time. Like someone who had been there a hundred times before, I came in through the kitchen door and sat down at the Great White Table (the best place in the house). I had recently made the career transition from politics to entertainment through my job with the Wedgwood Circle and our team was in Nashville to help co-host a musician retreat at the Art House.
Maybe it was the amazing aroma of the food Andi was preparing at her new Wolf range, or the fact that I felt so welcome in a home I had just stepped into thirty minutes prior. But as I sat at the Great White Table, I knew that my jump from the White House to the Art House was no mistake. At that moment I felt like I had hit the jackpot.
After only a short time I realized that Andi and Charlie were kind of like Walt Disney, creating a magical place of learning and laughter, full of fellowship and delicious food. They provided a place where we could all let go of our busy lives to rest, making room for long conversations with new friends and fishing adventures at the river flowing behind their house. As far as I’m concerned, it was my Magic Kingdom.
I had never before seen a place where hospitality, music, learning, cooking, and discipleship all came together in perfect harmony. I could almost hear Julie Andrews in the background singing, “These are a few of my favorite things.” Actually, they are all of my favorite things. I saw a picture of the kind of life I wanted to lead, a vocation that I didn’t even know existed. Andi calls it the “art of caring” and I was hooked from the first time I sat down at her kitchen table.
This was the first of two pivotal moments that would eventually lead me to where I am now. I returned to real life in Washington, D.C., and what I didn’t recognize as a particularly meaningful story began to unfold.
Within six months, Wedgwood Circle instituted a new 501(c)(3) branch of their organization, which I would be running. The aim of this non-profit was to encourage and equip artists and patrons. Coincidently (or not) one of the greatest supporters of this mission and a board member at Wedgwood Circle was a Dallasite named Brad Reeves.
It was at this fine gentleman’s house in Dallas that the second of two pivotal moments occurred: I once again found myself sitting across the table from Charlie Peacock. Little did I know that part of his journey to the Lone Star State involved scouting potential venues for a new Art House location. In my hometown.
I was excited to update Charlie on the progress at Wedgwood, especially some of our new ideas that developed as a direct result of my time spent at the Art House: a host family network for musicians, another artist retreat, and meals for artists traveling through town. These were the very concepts that excited and motivated me at my job at Wedgwood, which is why it seemed perfectly normal in that moment to tell Charlie how inspired I was by his work at the Art House. I added (not realizing the power of my next sentence) that I was enjoying my job so much that the only project that would ever tempt me away from Wedgwood would be working for Art House.
That animated the imaginations of Charlie and Brad and led to an idea. That led to a conversation. That led to a job offer. That led to a move. That led to Art House Dallas.
Two weeks ago, I returned to the Great White Table. Right back where it all started. My great Full-Circle moment. I had sat at that kitchen table many times during this particular Art House Dallas planning trip, but as I watched Andi cooking beef stew in the kitchen, I was struck by the amazing ways that God loves to creatively bring us full circle in life. Not just back to a table where I first caught this vision, but back to my hometown to carry out this vision for an organization that I love. With people that I love. In a city that I love.
Here’s to a whole new chapter of giving up creative control to see what God does next. I’ll keep you posted.
Jenny White is a native Texan who recently returned from a 5-year adventure in Washington, D.C. She serves as the Executive Director of Art House America’s new location in East Dallas, where she loves drinking coffee at the Pearl Cup, going to concerts at Granada Theatre, cycling around White Rock Lake, and cooking in her tiny kitchen. She is still in search of a Great White Table of her own.
To learn more about Art House Dallas or to share a big (or small) full-circle moment in your life, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.