Thursday, September 8, 2011

There Was a Glorious Sunrise

As I drove to work today, past this newly-built church, I began to reflect:
For twenty five years this property  sat here empty on the far northeast corner of town. For twenty five years it sported a large sign announcing the building of a  "future church home".  Finally, this year, they built it--a new building--put the finishing touches on it, and set up all the furniture for their opening dedication. That night--a week ago-- the pastor looked around and pronounced it good. He then went home and died quietly in his sleep.     Yesterday, I asked a little girl who had come to our Wednesday night children's program if she had attended Sunday School this week at her church. She said: "I can't go to my church because my pastor died." 

He was, I'm sure, the only pastor she has ever known, a dedicated man who has spent over twenty five years serving his church, loving his people, being a friend and adviser to all the other pastors in the ministerial alliance, my husband included. He would have been the first to smile at that little girl and correct her:   the pastor is not the church;  the building is not the church. The church is a group of people who gather to worship God, regardless of the circumstances, and if their shepherd were here to console his grieving flock, he would remind them that as sure as the sun sets over the town, it will rise again in the morning ...and so will he.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Missouri Welcome

Today I was remembering a conversation my two grandchildren and I had with an elderly gentleman we met while we were walking up and down the block in their new home state--Missouri. I'll try to quote it:

Gentleman: (standing in the driveway of his house, the one in this picture)
Good Afternoon.
We three: Good afternoon.
Zaya: Excuse me, Is this your house?
Gent: Yes, it is.
Zaya: It is a beauuutiful house! My grandma even took a picture of it when we passed by earlier.
Gent: Why thank you. We've lived in it for 42 years.
Mim: We just moved here from Oklahoma.
Gent: Oklahoma? So are you a Sooner or a Cowboy?
Zaya: Well, I can't be a cowboy, because I'm allergic to horses. (smiles) Actually, I'm a science fan.
Gent: A science fan?
Zaya: Yes, but I'm allergic to most animals so I'm going to be a biological chemist.
Mim: He's allergic to anything that has hair, even to my hamster Goki.
Zaya: I had a Tokay Gecko because he was a reptile, but we had to feed him live crickets and that was a real problem.
Gent: I imagine it was.
Zaya: Do you know what you have in Missouri? You have cardinals.
Gent: (All excited) Yes we do! How about them Saint Louis Cardinals!
Zaya: Well the male is all red and the female has a brown head and reddish beak.
Gent: (smiling) Oh! You mean the birds!

Grandma Lilibeth:(explaining) Yes, their new back yard is full of birds, and they're not used to seeing so many out in Western Oklahoma.
Mim: Yes, we see them on our deck and also hummingbirds and a spotted woodpecker.
Zaya: And some bird that we don't recognize that eats the ants off the hummingbird feeder.
Gent: Well welcome to Missouri! I think you'll like it here.

And I think they will. Their back yard is just perfect for a couple of young biological chemists.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Family Reunion

We took a mini-vacation on Saturday and drove down to Turner Falls for a family reunion. It had been way too many years since we had been together as a family. Ever since grandma, then grandpa died, we have all lived our separate lives in lots of states, staying connected through the grape vine and not always remembering or knowing what each other was going through.

 Since Grandma and Grandpa had seven children and twenty four grandchildren, that was a lot of not knowing and not recognizing faces to go with names and not praying for each other during hard times simply because we didn't find out about those times until they were long past.

Facebook changed all that. We, the "not so young but young enough to appreciate social networks" group began to friend each other online. We reminded each other of where we lived and what we did and how many kids we had and what had become of us. Invariably, we began to talk about old times--noisy dinners around little tables, drinking out of tall Tupperware glasses with spill-proof spouts on top, snitching bits of left-over dough cream pies, and playing kick the can out under the cherry tree. We remembered...and we decided we missed each other.

Then came a crisis. One of our cousins was diagnosed with ALS. His sister and his father started calling for a reunion. At times like this family needs family.

We agreed. So my cousin's sister Tonya, and my Uncle Dale began to look for a place that was centrally located, where we could rent a building for a couple of days and nights.

She found one in South Central Oklahoma, and when my uncle went up to investigate it, he was amazed to discover that it was owned by another branch of our family. The owner's great grandfather was our great grandfather's brother. How ironic is that?

So we all arrived, exclaiming at each old face and being introduced to the new ones...some of which looked just like the old ones, but from the past not the present. You get it.

The genealogists among us were in the Land of Delight--right next to Heaven, that is, having a better acquaintance than the rest of us with the long line who have already passed over.

 There were old pictures there; some we had never seen, although we were in them. Others were pictures of our parents and aunts and uncles doing things like fishing and climbing trees back when they were humans instead of adults. They wore hats and funny shoes and chuckled as they told us why they were smiling and who it was who was holding their hand.

Cameras flashed, tired children napped, scanners and laptops hummed unceasingly copying old documents and pictures to share with everyone.
First cousins-once-removed discussed migraines and how to tell when they are coming so you can stop them before they slow you down.

Brothers caught up on the latest in the real estate market and the price of a good herd of cattle.

I almost got a video of this group playing football in the house, but they must have seen an authority figure approaching and hidden the ball...or maybe they thought I was an authority figure. Rats. I keep forgetting how old I am.

And compared to these two--my niece and nephew-in-law--I'm quite old, but compared to 98 year old Great Aunt Ida, who's catching up on events in the life of her young nephew, my Uncle Henry, I'm almost as young as I feel.

There were Sooner shirts, Cowboy shirts, and even a rogue Bullrider shirt--worn as an antidote to all that Texas and Oklahoma fan mania.
There was an abundance of good food... and a constant chatter of background voices.

We decided that this is something we should do more a couple of years for sure. No, we don't agree on everything. No we aren't a perfect family. But we still need each other and don't want to forget that.