Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


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

I soloed at our new super market yesterday. No, I was not part of a Hallelujah Chorus flash mob. It’s just that I went by myself. I have been there with Helen, but then I only had to push the cart, one of those big long freight car carts. This time I had to find only a few small items, so I was pushing a little caboose cart, the kind that is really just a shopping basket on wheels.

I was dressed in my usual summer way—floppy white hat, t-shirt proclaiming the virtues of pickleball, shorts displaying the virtues of skinny legs. All the people who worked there--from the manager who looks a lot like “the most interesting man in the world” in those TV commercials, to the middle-aged stockers to the young women who are always going somewhere in a hurry—were suspiciously solicitous of my health and my hunting skills. I was not surprised. An old man in a floppy hat, pushing a caboose cart and alternately looking from a small piece of paper to the signs above the aisles, none of which ever mentions lemon juice, is bound to invoke concern. What am I supposed to do if he dies right here?

I appreciated the concern and attention. I was not about to mention the lemon juice problem, though. My geographical disorientation would only confirm their assumption that I was an escapee from the dementia ward and cause them to call the little men in the white coats, which is supposed to be “the men in the little white coats,” but everyone always says “the little men in the white coats.” [When you’re old and on a solo flight, you get a bit paranoid.]

I did not appreciate the most interesting manager in the world, though, for his concern was of the dismissive sort. “How are you, young man?” I am not a young man. I don’t look like a young man. He would not address a young man that way. He was saying, “Old men are not acceptable, so we’ll pretend you’re a young man.” That was not what he intended, of course, but it is what that really means.

Old men, and old women, are acceptable. So are teenagers. That’s why young people and old people are so often in collusion; both are treated by others as unacceptable because of their age. Oldsters and youngsters understand and sympathize with each other because of their shared unacceptability.

The point, though, is that you are acceptable, regardless. Your actions may not be acceptable. If you bonk someone on the head and grab her purse or cheat on a mortgage and put a family on the street, that is not acceptable. But it’s not because you are white or black or gay or straight or Sottish or Mexican or young or old or rich or poor, it’s because you’re a jerk.

This is the good news: God accepts you and loves you as you are. So stop being a jerk. You don’t have to take someone else’s money or sex or home or dignity to prove that you are superior and thus acceptable. You’re even better than acceptable, you are accepted. Just as you are.

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.

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