An evening with Margaret and Ashton Lambdie leaves me pondering the meaning of the term ‘traditional.’ By some definitions, the fellow Nebraskans who met at Hastings College, got married after graduation, and are active members of what Margaret calls the ‘good’ Baptist church in Lawrence (American Baptist versus Southern Baptist) are traditional. “Fifty, no seventy, years ago, you went to church because it’s what you ‘did.’ It was your social life. It represented the need to belong. That’s not important anymore. Nobody wants to commit to anything anymore.” Margaret and Ashton make traditional commitments, to each other and their community.
Yet they are a non-traditional couple. Margaret is pursuing a doctorate in flute performance from University of Kansas; Ashton works in a bike shop. Their future geography will be determined by Margaret’s career path, not his. “There are bike shops everywhere.”
In other ways, they are so traditional to be non-traditional from a 21st century perspective. They keep 50-pound bins of oats and flour in their tiny apartment. They bake all their own bread. Margaret knitted a sweater throughout our conversation; Ashton skeined her wool.
Aston bicycles in a different orbit than I do. I was impressed when he described finishing 100 to 200 mile races with upwards of 10,000 vertical feet or rise in five to seven hours. My jaw dropped when he told me the races are on gravel. He laughed and raised his thighs, swollen as watermelons. “I can’t get any pants that fit.” Ashton received the golden horseshoe award: the first person to complete the 200-mile Dirty Kanza race in under seven hours. “No one else will ever get that.” I asked how he keeps his energy up on these treks. “I drink maple syrup and I eat these.” He pulled out a giant bag of protein infused cookies Margaret bakes for him, No pre-packaged energy gels for this man.
The fact that Margaret and Ashton are married is important to them. “We know so many people who have taken every step – dated a long time, live together, even buy a house together, but they don’t get married.” It evolves from ‘what are you waiting for’ to ‘what are you afraid of.’”
Yet their core commitment does not dilute the ‘opposites attract’ quality of their personalities. Margaret is serene, composed, careful in word and action. Ashton is a firecracker. “I love it when s*#t hits the proverbial fan. Global warming, overpopulation, our political situation – it’s all fascinating to me.” Margaret recoils at the idea. “I hate it when everything breaks. Everything that’s good strengthens me. System failure bothers me extraordinarily.”
Which brought us around to that morning’s sermon. Ecclesiastes. “To everything there is a season. Is that a warning or a call to live in the moment? You can read it either way. Or both.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“We don’t know. We don’t get to know. We make plans but we don’t get to make them reality.” – Margaret