First of all, on this “Star Wars” day 2021, allow me to say, “May the Fourth Be with You!” Corny, I know, but it just rolls off your tongue. Even worse, when I was in seminary, just after the first movie came out, it was typical to meet someone walking across the grounds, and to say, “May the Force be with you!” and have the person reply, “And also with you…”
I was going to write about a two-part wonderful meal I fixed last night. Not boasting – it was just wonderful. Good old barbecue chicken on the grill, and corn on the cob. Somehow, I managed to pick up chicken thighs that were the size of your fist, and if they weren’t cooked to perfection, then we indeed will have to wait to get to heaven to have those. Also, you would think that this early in the season, the corn on the cob might be a bit unripe, but the ears were excellent. My family, I must admit, are not as “effusive” as I am when it comes to describing a meal while you are eating it, but I figure life is way too short to simply eat a meal, when you truly can have a feast. Even better news? There is enough for marvelous leftovers for lunch – only four hours away!
My greatest task, however, has come as I was going through the family history stuff yesterday. Other than the stuff that’s online, I have used a large plastic bin to keep things in – no bugs, no moisture, and easily found. As I went through the bin yesterday looking for those pictures to send to my siblings, I once again spent some time looking at the old family Bibles that have been gifted to me. One of the Bibles is from the Servis side of the family, which was the maiden name of my great-grandmother. The other Bible is from the Dow side, which was my great-grandfather’s last name. Of course, the fascinating part of each book is found in the center, where family members over the course of time inscribed the birth, marriage and death information about the relatives. Every time I look at the Servis Bible, I have to laugh, because two of the entries are far darker than the others. Looking more closely, you can plainly see that the writing was not done with a pen. They used the point of a burning stick to write the names in. It goes under the category of “What were you thinking?” as with just the right amount of heat on what was old brittle paper back then, the entire Bible could have gone up in flames! Just to make sure Esther and Alfred Stryker (whoever they are!) got in the family bible…
So both of the Bibles go back in the family history to the 1700s, but even then, our families had been in America for 100 years. They are truly great records, but flimsy as an old Kleenex, so they need protecting. When I pulled out the Bibles from the bin this time, I realized that the old plastic shoeboxes that held them were as brittle as the paper, and in fact, the tops of both boxes had been shattered some time past, which makes the idea of protection a bit sketchy. No problem, said I – I’ll just hunt around the house for other plastic boxes to put the Bibles in. It didn’t take long before I had exhausted all the other closets and cupboards. I guess after 250 years, maybe it was time to actually buy new containers for the family record.
Now, I don’t know why I somehow thought that family Bibles came in fairly standard sizes. They do not. One of the books measures 12x9x3.5 inches, and the other is a whopping 12x11x3. Now, it doesn’t sound like a huge difference, but to go on line and try to find separate containers that fit each book is like hunting for the holy grail. Plus, apparently the regulations surrounding storage boxes is that, at least on line, you are not permitted to buy only one. When I found a box that might fit one of the books, it was part of a group of 6, or 10 boxes. One of them even sold in a group of 60. What am I going to do with 60 little storage boxes?
So, faced with inevitability, I am going to have to actually go out and step into a store today. I’m hoping that the neighborhood grocery store will perhaps carry storage boxes that will fit, and I can take care of all the shopping at the same time. I’m not holding out a lot of hope, however, since that all would make things too easy. I know I could go to Walmart, but that truly is about the last place on earth I want to go, even without a pandemic.
We’ll see how it turns out. In the meantime, the story of my family is spread out all over the office. I wonder what it will look like in another 100 years when my descendants go through all my work and files and such, and try to decide what’s worth keeping, and what is just old.
One thing we cannot do in life is to control how the future deals with the present. What is kept and cherished now may be later seen as just a bunch of trivia, with no value. On the other hand, what we might ignore nowadays, like an extra photo or a deed to a cemetery lot in the future may indeed fill in the blank about who “we” have been and were and never were. For instance, as I have mentioned before, our family’s town as it were was Logan, Iowa. However, a few years ago I stumbled across my grandad’s birth certificate from 1894. It stated that he had been born in Mt. Vernon, South Dakota, about 10 miles from where we lived for 8 years. However, there is no record or document or anything that tells me why that family lived in South Dakota at that time. I’m hoping someday to find out the reason and answer that question.
Part of the richness of life comes in realizing we probably have many more questions than answers. In fact, if that time were to come when we no longer were trying to “figure out” the reason why, or the what, or the how in our lives, I would expect the meaning in our lives would also go away. We have so much to learn – even if it is just finding a box to put an old book in, to save it for the next generation.
Enjoy your day, as you intentionally ask the questions that guide you, as you seek to find the right size for whatever it is that you need to fill.
Word for the day: opprobrium. Pronounced uh-PRO-bree-um. Kind of a tough word, from the Latin opprobare, and ob+probrum. The word means “disgrace,” or “reproach,” or “dishonor.” When someone has acted in an opprobrious manner, or has brought opprobrium to themselves, it truly is a public disgrace, or censure for bad conduct, or contemptible behavior. The thing about opprobrium is that there’s not a lot of question as to whether that kind of censure should fall on the person. They blew it, and acted very badly, and as such, are opprobrious. Case settled.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.