CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©
We went to see Bill this week. We’ve been friends for 55 friends. Found out he was in the hospital. Just dropped everything, packed an overnight bag, and went to see him. Got to see Paul & Sharon while we were there. We’ve been friends with them for 49 years. We have learned that at our age one should not dawdle in going to see old friends.
While there, though, I started thinking back to when I was the campus minister in that town, and got so much unlikely support from Ruth & Margaret. They were retired college professors. One of them—Ruth, I think--had been Miss America along about 1923. They were unlikely supporters for my style of ministry. This was in the days of Civil Rights and Vietnam, and I was in constant trouble with the authorities, both civil and church, for my advocacies. One couple came to church one Sunday, found out I was preaching, and immediately left. That probably happened more than once, but my wife happened to be hear them discussing their departure, so I know about that one.
Ruth and Margaret were sedate gray-haired church ladies, always nicely and classily dressed, very gentle in all ways, and my firm supporters against their fellow church members. More than once Ruth sought me out along the fringes of some group to assure me I was doing the right thing.
I know the reason for their support now. They were a lesbian couple. There was a bit of talk around the edges that their relationship might be more than just housemates, but who is going to accost a kind and gentle elderly retired professor church lady and accuse her of practicing the love that dare not speak its name? Nobody did that. But those ladies knew how the town and the church felt about homosexuality. They knew that if they “came out,” they would not be accepted. So they kept their love to themselves.
I was like a lot of others back then. If they had come out, I would have been nice to them, privately and publicly, but I would have thought there was something wrong with them.
But being outliers, the unacceptable, they were supporters of rights for others who suffered discrimination, even if that discrimination was not against their particular point of rejection. They were supportive, also, of a fiery undisciplined chaotic unacceptable young preacher who was supporting them, even though he did not know it, by advocating acceptance for the unacceptable.
John Robert McFarland
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.