Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


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

We went to see Bill [1] in the hospital. He was on his back, hooked up to many machines, weak. Nonetheless, he recited for us one of his poems which was recently published. The first lines were, “One of my ancestors was a fish, I’m told, but I have no photographs…”

It’s hilarious and insightful, in many ways. Most of us have photos of various ancestors, but the technology, even for a painting, let alone a photo, does not go back that far. We carry the genes of ancestors long gone, but we have no direct evidence that they even existed.

Helen was so taken with the poem, though, and with Bill’s ability to be himself, the thoughtful and lyrical man we have known for oh, so many years, even in the crucible of weakness and pain, that she decided to honor him by getting out one of the pretty, tiny fish-shaped bowls she prizes, no small feat just to find it in the aftermath of a house move, to use for her teabag. Bill is part of her life each day, back to his earliest ancestor, even though he himself has no photographs.

We did not spring full-grown, like Athena from the head of Zeus. We are the result of a long line of folks who struggled to live. By their struggle, they have made our lives possible. I am the photo of my ancestors. Perhaps that’s what the writer of Genesis is reporting when God says, “Let’s make people in our image.” [1:26] Even before the fish, God had a photo of you.

John Robert McFarland

1] More properly, The Rev. Dr. William Luther White, Chaplain and Professor of Religion, Illinois Wesleyan University, Retired

The picture is of the Pine Mountain ski jump in Iron Mountain, MI, the highest man-made ski jump in the world. I started this blog several years ago, when we followed the grandchildren to the “place of winter,” Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP]. I put that in the sub-title, Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter, where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.] The grandchildren, though, are grown up, so in May, 2015 we moved “home,” to Bloomington, IN, where we met and married. It’s not a “place of winter,” but we are still in winter years of the life cycle, so I am still trying to understand what it means to be a follower of Christ in winter. I have a picture that is more appropriate now for Indiana, boys playing basketball in winter snow, but I have not yet figured out how to replace the ski jump picture with the basketball picture.

I tweet as yooper1721.

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