Granny had these photos of her sons framed and on her living room wall as long as I can remember. Maybe they were professional photos done when they were in the service and the best she had. I don’t think many people owned cameras in those days and the few snapshots I’ve seen of my family from my very young days weren’t great. Yet, they are as treasured as much as the photos on granny’s wall.
When you walk into our home it’s quickly apparent that family is important to me as I have photos on shelves and table tops in our entry and throughout that portion of our house. Photos that recall celebrations, activities, and anytime we could be on, in, or near the water.
Sandy is a bright spot in my life. She leads our monthly small group. Very small. The four of us have been meeting via Zoom long before that became the only place to meet face to face in the pandemic.
Each month she sends a text a few days before and will have something she’s read that she wants to discuss in our meetup. Sometimes we do. Most times we veer off into other territory. Every time the discussion is good. I’ve never met these women but they are real friends. They are a safe place. I love and appreciate each one of them.
This month Sandy asked us to consider who we’d put on our wall. Who has left a mark on our lives as to faith, belief, service, etc.
Sandy spoke about reading Madeleine L’Engle’s books and how her words opened something in Sandy. It gave her a sense of freedom in her faith.
Theresa talked about her parents and their courage and bravery living in Europe during World War II. It was interesting to hear the family stories handed down and things I’d never considered, forgetting how wide-spread the horrors of that time were.
Cara started pulling books off her shelf talking about the impact authors like Emily Freeman and Bob Goff have made in her life.
One would remind me of another and we all started throwing out authors and books we’d read that have marked us, refreshed, and renewed our faith.
The first name I thought of when Sandy texted the question was Ron. He’s not an author, theologian, or educator. He still has a bit of his Kentucky accent and he’s a close talker. (Seinfeld fans will get that.)
We met Ron in 1988 when he and his wife came to be our pastors. Our children were the same ages and were enrolled in the same school. We became fast friends. His humor was a bit off-putting to some, especially when he said “Smoke ’em if you got ’em” to the musicians before worship service started. I was an immediate fan of his irreverent humor and loved how comfortable he was being him.
He’s not on my wall because of his preaching skills, or Bible knowledge. It’s not his theology though I think some of it has changed a bit as has mine. It’s how he pastors people. Over two years into retirement he is still pastoring people. His wife told me he calls a handful of people nearly everyday. It doesn’t surprise me.
It seems every other funeral we’ve attended in the past 10 years Ron was the one chosen to speak. He makes people feel known and cared for. He is motivated by the compassion of Christ.
There are others I thought of during our discussion. My mom for her unwavering service and Henry’s parents for theirs.
Mike Yaconelli, who opened my heart to a different view of the gifts of the spirit and to things that aren’t so important after all.
Tony Campolo for his preaching that was impassioned and engaging. His ability to stand firm for his beliefs no matter what it cost him in speaking engagements.
It was addicts who taught me about true grace. And a counselor who showed me how to say ‘Welcome back’ to a man who’d been through our doors again and again. Relapse after relapse.
This is love. This is amazing grace.
I’m not forgetting Jesus, the giver of grace on an extraordinary scale. I’d just have to find a better picture than the ones in church halls.
My walls are not big enough to hold all who have impacted my life.
But I wonder, who is on your wall?