CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter
One of my heroes is Aunt Gertrude [AG], the widow of my Uncle Randall. She has many fine and admirable qualities, chief among them being her devotion to Indiana University basketball. She lives in Ohio State territory, though, so she doesn’t get to see many IU games.
Another of my heroes is AG’s granddaughter, Brigid, my cousin Kae’s daughter. Brigid is a young wife and mother. I’m sure she has many fine qualities, too, but I don’t know what they are. She’s my hero simply for one choice she made on one day, the day she and her grandmother were going to pick out her wedding dress.
When she got to AG’s house, she said, “Change of plan. We’re going to Bloomington.”
“Is there a special wedding shop there?” asked AG.
“No, the IU basketball team is there. I got us tickets to the IU basketball game.”
“But… what about your dress?”
“Grandma, we can look for a wedding dress any day, but how often do you get to go to an IU basketball game?”
I know my hero-worship of Brigid might be dismissed as male talk. If a man were picking out a wedding dress he would go to K-Mart and take the first one on the shelf. That’s how men pick out anything, unless it’s a car or a chain-saw. The first one looks good enough.
When daughter Katie and son-in-law Patrick were first dating, they had to go to a mall to buy a wedding gift for friends. Helen told Katie, “Be careful which door you go in. He’ll want to take whatever you come to first.” She was right. I was relieved; she was marrying a real man.
Brigid was a soccer star, good enough to win a college scholarship, but she’s all girl. That wedding dress was as important to her as to any other bride. It just wasn’t as important as her grandma. Any girl named Brigid who thinks taking a grandparent to an IU ball game is more important is Number One in my book. [Discerning readers may guess that I have a granddaughter named Brigid.]
It’s important to choose people over things, and to choose the once-moment over the any-moment. Jesus understood that. That’s why he “passed through the crowd” when the hometown folks were trying to throw him down the mountain. The once-moment hadn’t come yet.
When I was a young minister and in constant trouble with church authorities because I was determined to follow Jesus regardless of how much consternation it caused those who preferred calm at all costs, a veteran pastor, John Adams , a past-master at following Jesus into hell and back out again, said to me, “Jesus didn’t get crucified on every little hill. He waited for Golgotha.” That simple reminder changed my whole approach. I learned to wait for the once-moment.
John Robert McFarland
1] I first met John P. Adams when he was pastoring in Hammond, IN and I was at Cedar Lake, IN. He became world-renowned for his peace-making efforts in the trouble spots of the world, especially at Wounded Knee.
The “place of winter” mentioned above is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where life is defined by winter even in the summer.