Published in the Rains County Leader on February 26, 2019:
Back in the early 90s, the idea of “six degrees of separation” was popular. The theory was that any two people are only six or less social connections away from each other. In other words, if you began a “friend of a friend” chain, any two people can find a connection within six steps. This concept was developed in 1929, but it didn’t grab the attention of the public until a play by that name opened in 1990 followed by a movie in 1993.
“The Kevin Bacon Effect” was a spin-off of the six degrees phenomenon, and it led to a book in 1996 and a trivia game sometime later. I believe the idea was that everyone in Hollywood had either worked with Kevin Bacon or knew someone who had, thus proving that Kevin Bacon is the center of the entertainment universe. All of this is a long-winded way of saying “it’s a small world,” and if you will bear with me, I will attempt to tell you my recent small-world tale in as few words as possible.
In 2013, my church hosted a ladies’ conference, and Edwina Patterson was the speaker. I coordinated the conference, so Edwina and I spent a lot of time together working out the countless details involved in feeding and providing restrooms for over 200 women while teaching them the truths of God’s Word. I learned a lot from that experience, and I made a good friend.
Edwina and her husband RJ live on a large parcel of land in Lone Oak where they have built The Oaks Retreat Center. The Center houses their ministry, Redeeming the Time, that includes not only conferences and retreats, but also books, radio and TV broadcasts, Bible studies, blogs, and podcasts. And their home is breathtaking.
The house was built by the Pattersons and lots of volunteers in the style of a southern plantation mansion and is beautifully decorated with love and garage sale finds that Edwina has personalized and made her own. She calls the style “foo-foo” so the women who come there for retreats will feel pampered. David and I once visited The Oaks with a group who went to help with some yard work. I was so impressed that the half-way house in Tatia’s Tattoo is patterned after it.
Edwina and I don’t stay in close touch, but she calls me from time-to-time to see how Believers’ Baptist is getting along and to tell me about a new seminar she is offering. She called me two weeks ago to see if any of our women would be interested in a retreat the first weekend in March on “Redeeming the Time with Your Husband.” When she first called, I was in a Bible study, so I let the call go to voice mail. Now, this is where you need to bear with me while I shift to another story – but I promise I’ll draw it all together in the end.
Three weeks ago I introduced you to Keith Wills, the treasure hunter who has a shop in Gilmer. The week after we met him, David visited him again, taking him two old metal detectors he and his dad had used decades ago to coin shoot on the beach and in other promising locations. He wanted to see if Keith could bring them back to life and also to pick his brain about this hobby. A few days later, David received a call saying the detectors were ready, and we made plans to go pick them up.
I think I’ve told you that David goes across the street almost every day to share a cup of coffee with our neighbor Charles and to rehash old Navy stories. Since their home is quite small, Connie can’t help but hear their conversations. When she heard that we were going back to the treasure hunting store, she asked to go along. It seems David isn’t the only one who had an old metal detector in storage. In the interest of keeping the word count under control, I’ll just say that we all enjoyed our visit, and I’ll skip to our trip home. It was a Friday, and we were talking about plans for the weekend.
“We don’t have much going on, but I do have to call Edwina Patterson.”
Connie’s mouth fell open, and she said, “Edwina Patterson? Does she have a daughter named Jamie?”
I didn’t know, but I promised to ask when I called the next day. Edwina had much the same reaction when I asked her if she remember Connie Ashley and her son John. Well, I couldn’t see if her mouth fell open, but she said, “How did you know that?” and began to shout excitedly. It seems that, before Edwina and RJ settled down in Lone Oak, they traveled the country in an RV with Jamie and her gospel band. Connie, a professional photographer, took photos for their promos, album covers, posters, and so forth. Thursday morning Connie and I went visiting and spent several hours over coffee and scones, filling in the gaps since the two of them had lost touch.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a group together from our church on such short notice for a weekend retreat, but I brought back brochures for the appropriate group leaders and look forward to an event sometime in the near future. In the meantime, I witnessed a true small world story and saw two very happy women reconnect. Who knows, one of these days I might run into Kevin Bacon.