Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Monday, March 10, 2014


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter For the Years of Winter…

 Along about 1950, when my little brother was around four years old, we were at 909 Main Street in Hamilton, OH, at the home of Grandpa and Grandma Mac, for a family reunion. Nobody stayed in motels in those days, so our family and several others spent the nights on floors in various rooms. At the end of the day, Mother sent Daddy to bring Jimmy in to give him a bath before everyone else needed the bathroom before hitting the floors.

Daddy had lost his eyesight in an industrial accident a few years before. He was blind in one eye but still had a little sight in the other. He had to wear very thick glasses, with a black lens on the blind side. It was almost dark out. All us kids were having a great time, the older cousins trying to out-cool one another as we slouched around in the back yard, the little ones trying to outrun one another in various games of “You’re it; no, you are.” In the gloaming, Daddy chased and grabbed a four-year-old and tried to drag him into the house. He was not surprised the kid resisted; Jim still doesn’t like to stop playing at the end of the day, but now it’s more watching satirical TV shows than dashing in mad circles around the house. But the kid resisted more than usual. He pulled, he howled, he screamed.

“John,” Grandma called from the front porch, “that’s the little boy from next door.” [1]

Everyone laughed, but it must have been traumatic for that poor child, being dragged to a strange house by an angry and hairy man with one eye blacked out. I have often wondered what became of that kid. Did he become a maker of horror films, a mass murderer, an Olympic sprint champ?

Back when you were little, there were people observing you, the time the headless chicken chased you and everybody laughed, the time you fell down in the park and split your pants, the time you offered a little girl a pansy and she pushed you down on your splitting pants. They’re saying, somewhere, right now: “I wonder what became of that kid—maybe the proprietor of a chicken restaurant, a designer of underwear, a writer of country songs?

There are people who saw you then, who are wondering about you now. But you are the only one who knows what really became of you.

John Robert McFarland

1] I think when Jimmy was finally located he got spanked because he wasn’t there to be the right child. Parents often punish kids for embarrassing them by not being the right one.

‘The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where life is defined by winter even in the summer!

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