Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


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

I’ll call them Stan and Stella, but those are not their real names. We were friends for a long time. I admired them both—smart, spiritual, sensitive, funny people. When Stella died, Stan sent us a copy of her obituary and also the worship bulletin from her funeral. In both pieces, the times of her life that featured most prominently were her brushes with celebrity, one a brush, quite literally. She was so pleased when a famous man, an entertainer, once accidentally brushed her cheek. In the other, she had once danced with another famous entertainer for a few bars. 

I was flummoxed by that. I know we live in a celebrity-focused culture. It seems so sad, though, that this smart, spiritual woman—an educated wife, mother, grandmother among other things—would see as the highlights of her life such minor brushes with celebrity.

I’m not immune to celebrity interest myself. I’ve met a few famous people, exchanged a few words. My celebrities are more in the categories of thinkers than entertainers, but I’m glad to tell the stories of my brushes with them, gain a little celebrity for myself by osmosis.

We went to hear Congressman John Lewis recently. He is the last of “The Big Six” of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. The comic book, “March,” was written/drawn to tell the story of his life during the movement. A comic book [now called graphic novel] is an especially good way to teach history to young people. He told of how a nine-year-old who read the book asked him, “Why are you so awesome?” He said, “I had no answer.”

Why are we so in awe of fame? Well, there are obvious answers. Famous people are important, and a brush with one makes us seem more important than we are. Etc.

I think, though, of a woman who had a literal brush with fame, as Stella did, but this woman just brushed the hem of the robe that famous person was wearing, and in so doing, she was healed.

It’s not the importance of celebrity that we really want. What we really want is healing, to be made whole. We need just a brush with the most famous one of all to be healed, to be made whole. Our problem is equating famous with awesome. By reaching for celebrity, we are settling for fame when we could have awe.

Those who have led me to Christ were not famous, but they were awesome.

John Robert McFarland

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 tweet as yooper1721.

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