Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Monday, November 3, 2014

She Came from A Far--Remembering Bettie Wilson Story

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

Bettie Wilson Story was a woman of the Word. She served the Word with her words. That is remarkable, in its own way, because in person, she spoke words so slowly.

She was the daughter and brother of Alabama preachers, both of whom died too young. She was married to an Alabama preacher, too, although GL spent almost his entire career, and their 61 years of faithful marriage, as a New Testament scholar and Religion professor at Illinois Wesleyan University. [1]

Despite all those years on the Illinois flat lands, Bettie never lost her soft Alabama drawl or her gentle  Alabama smile. I can still hear her telling the story of the wise men at Jesus’ manger. Alabamians thought they had ashes on their feet because “They came from a far.”

She wrote the words faster than she spoke them, though, as attested by her books and her many, many news stories and columns as a journalist for United Methodist publications. She served for many years as director of communications for the Central Illinois Conference. In that writing she was concise and thoughtful and insightful.

She didn’t just inform; she communicated. She knew that the purpose of church journalism was more than just stating the facts. In her writing she tried to build community through dialogue.

She was not an insular writer, interested only in her own words. She wanted to make it possible for everyone to read and to write. She spent years on the library board. For two decades she directed the IWU Writer’s Conference, and made it possible for hopeful writers like me to meet accomplished writers like Madeline L’Engle.

Those of us who had the privilege of knowing her could hear her slow and gentle and smiling voice as we read her books and articles.

Bettie had it right. The Word is not in a hurry. The Word knows no time limits. It is the Word that is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. The Word does not rush. It takes whatever time is necessary so that it can be heard clearly, in any dialect.

Bettie heard the Word clearly, and spoke it slowly, and wrote it hopefully, In the process, she enhanced our community, and loved us all.

John Robert McFarland

1] One of the many convergences of our lives is Opelika, AL, where Bettie’s father pastored when she met GL, from nearby Beauregard, pronounced Boregard. Our granddaughter was born in Opelika, when daughter Katie taught at Auburn U, and GL’s sister was one of her nurses in the hospital.

[my old charter email address works, too]

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! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.]

I have also started an author blog, about writing, in preparation for the publication, by Black Opal Books, of my novel, VETS, in late 2015.

I tweet as yooper1721.

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