Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Sunday, September 25, 2016


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

It’s Sunday morning, so as I always do, I’m thinking about and praying for my preacher friends, including Ed Boase. I hadn’t thought about Ed for a long time, until Helen and I started talking this past week about my ordination. It reminded me that Ed was one of the two pastors who, along with the bishop, laid hands on me at my ordination.

The other was Otis Collier, my District Superintendent, a kindly man, close to retirement. He baptized our younger daughter, Kathy as we called her back then, in our church at Cedar Lake. [1] Otis kept me out of trouble, as much as possible, so I felt it appropriate to choose him as one of my ordainers. I chose Ed because I owed him since I got him into trouble.

“I didn’t know you and Ed were that close, to choose him as an ordainer,” Helen said.

We weren’t close, in general. He pastored in Lowell, a small town several miles from Cedar Lake, where we lived, a small town but one with a reputation for turning out performers, including Florence Henderson and Jo Anne Worley. [2] Ed was forty years older than I, like Otis, ready for retirement, and, like Otis, kind, and willing to talk to and be seen with a wild young radical at District meetings when most others there were afraid it would hurt their reputation.

That was the extent of our relationship, until the woman from our church left her new baby on his porch.

She wasn’t really a member of our church, but her son, about sixteen, came to our youth group, so they were my pastoral responsibility. It was the teen boy who invited me to their house to talk to his mother, because she was close to forty, and pregnant, and they had no job or money, and she was embarrassed about the baby so wouldn’t talk to anyone about what they should do once the baby came.

So I went. The boy initiated most of the conversation, but his mother talked, too, and it was clear that she was intelligent, but in denial. Nothing was said about a father for the new baby, so it looked like there would be no help from that source. I did the usual things, trying to connect her to social agencies. Mostly, though, she remained in denial about the whole thing… until the baby came. That was when she began not only to accept but to expect help from Helen and me.

Our daughter, Mary Beth, was into her second year, so we had baby things that she had outgrown, or duplicates, that we could give. We tried to help in other ways, but Helen was at home, without a car, with a baby of our own, while I was gone all day to Garrett Theological Seminary, at Northwestern University. So I told her if she got into some emergency, she should call Rev. Boase at Lowell.

She did, except it was more than a telephone call. Ed said there was a knock on the door. He opened it. There stood a woman he had never seen before. “Here’s the baby,” she said, pointing to a box on the floor. “I’ll be back soon.” She left.

Soon turned out to be a couple of days, which was a long time for a bewildered old couple that had not laid hands on a baby in a very long time. They were beginning to think they’d have to give the baby to the social workers when the mother returned, walked in, thanked them, picked up the baby, and left.

That was the end of the story. She had apparently made some living arrangements elsewhere while she was gone, for we never saw her or either of her children again. The end of the story, except for me asking Ed to lay hands on my head at my ordination.

He squeezed much harder than was really necessary.


1] Older daughter Mary Beth, was baptized by Bishop Richard Raines at annual conference at Purdue University.

2] The 1960s urbanized the entertainment industry. After that, you couldn’t just be a kid from a small town that had a good drama teacher, go off to Hollywood or New York and make it on musicals-in-the-barn talent. You had to grow up in a place where professionals were already producing. Before that, though, a small out-of-the-way town like Danville, IL, could produce Dick and Jerry VanDyke, Bobby Short, and Gene Hackman.

I tweet as yooper1721.

Here I come to save the day! No, not Mighty Mouse. Yuri Strelnikov, the boy genius of Katie McFarland Kennedy’s delightful Learning to Swear in America. Buy it or borrow it, but read this book! [What do you mean, you’re not old enough to remember Mighty Mouse?”

No comments:

Post a Comment