Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Thursday, January 28, 2016


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

Aunt Rosemary’s funeral is tomorrow. Today is “visitation.”

My father was one of seven children. Eight, really, since Grandma and Grandpa raised Genevieve, too. Grandma’s brother’s wife had died and his new wife did not want the four-year-old Genevieve. Uncle Bob didn’t want her, either. He and Genevieve were the same age, and natural rivals. Bob, from whom I get my middle name, said they already had too many children in the family.

Genevieve must have laughed when Bob married Rosemary, at ages 35 and 26, respectively, and produced nine children!

My mother was one of eight children, too. I was always surrounded by aunts and uncles and cousins. I took so much of my identity from them. They were always so supportive and affirmative of achievement, not just public achievement, like being the first person in the family to go to college, but private achievement, too, like working hard and being kind. I learned from them that individual stories are always a part of larger stories. 

Through marriage, those sixteen aunts and uncles became thirty-one. Those aunts and uncles were a spreading tree, a family tree of many branches, providing shade and a place to hide from the rain, a place to sit and hear the stories. It never occurred to me that they would not be there forever, that great tree of protection and affirmation and love. Now there are only two limbs left.

Soon that tree will be gone. But there is a new tree that has been quietly taking root and spreading out, the tree that the next generation of nieces and nephews must sit under when it rains and when the sun burns hot and when they want to hear our story. I am a branch on that tree. Our tree knows how to protect from the sun and rain, how to provide shelter as the stories are told beneath our branches, for we have learned from “the greatest generation.”

Thank you, Aunt Rosemary, for being a limb on that tree.

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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