Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A few weeks ago my dad’s dad passed away. In writing his service, I learned a great deal about him that I never knew. For instance, I never knew that he was one of 18 siblings, and that when the dust storms and drought hit, his family migrated to California in a journey that is straight out of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. We never talked about that, even though Grapes of Wrath is one of my all-time favorite books. When I learned that, I began to wonder: Maybe my own love for that book is because it’s part of my family’s story.
At the service, this happened: After my sermon, a woman pulled me aside and said in an almost whisper (like the kind you would use to tell someone their zipper is down, or something dirty), "You are the grandkid who thinks different, right? You pastor that liberal church, right?" I responded. "Well I pastor First Austin and some think of us as liberal." And she said, "Well you know where I am from, we do think of you as liberal..." and I got ready for whatever was to come nextand then she grinned, and followed up, "but I have a hunch where you got it from."
Then she told me a story about my Granna and Grandaddy working at the Food Pantry at their old church. A couple came in with different last names and the same address. The man in charge that day rudely dismissed them, throwing their application in the trash and telling them once they were married and "living right," they would be eligible for food.
She continued: "And you know what your grandparents did? At the end of that day, they went to the garbage can, pulled out the application, went to the grocery store, bought as many groceries as they could and then took them to the couple. They apologized for what had happened, they prayed with the couple and gave them the food." And then she smiled and said in a whisper again, "They did not always like the rules either, so you might be doing it right... keep on."
I had never heard these two stories, and both in some way help me begin to piece together parts of my own life and makeup… you see, we are all just chapters in a much larger story, and we need to better know the chapters before us.
In the words of Donald Miller: “When the story of earth is told, all that will be remembered is the truth we exchanged. The vulnerable moments. The terrifying risk of love and the care we took to cultivate it.”

So tell your stories. Share your wisdom. Speak your truth. Shed your light. Share your life.


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