There's a picture on my dresser that I swiped from my childhood room sometime after Jeff & I moved back to Kentucky. The frame is a 4x6 but the picture is smaller. It is me, around 1-year old, putting a green Carebear on the gentle lap of my great-grandfather, Papa. Because of the faded cream matte in the frame, Papa's face is covered and I have to take the picture out of its home for 28 years in order to see his expression. Papa is not looking at the camera, but rather, looking down and smiling at me. His left hand on the Carebear and his right arm extended to embrace this little girl who thinks her Papa is the best man in the whole world. (And because he's the best man in the whole world, there is nothing he would rather do than hold that faded green Carebear.) After years of thinking that this picture belonged in my parents' house, I finally realized I could look at it every single day if I wanted to. So I took it. And it sits next to another picture I took from my childhood room, of my dad's dad and me.
I don't really know why this matters to anyone but me. But perhaps it is one way of expressing how important it can be to know where we have come from and from whom we have come. Families are the most awesome and fickle relationships we have. Sometimes we can't stand not being around them, and sometimes all we need is our space. But, for me, neither one means that love is gone. I am so happy to come from the people I come from. Our past shapes the person we become; and the people who know us the best are the ones who make us whole.
I took a creative writing class when I was a senior in high school. One of our assignments was to fill in the blanks in the frame of George Ella Lyon's poem "Where I'm From." One of the lines I wrote says, "I'm from Hopkinsville and Crofton, chocolate sundaes and homegrown tomatoes." Hopkinsville & Crofton are the small towns where my roots are planted. And those are the foods that have stuck out to me for some reason. Every time my older sister, Katherine, and I went to visit our great-grandparents Papa & Bess, they would fix us vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup in little green bowls. And Papa always called them chocolate sundaes. Not ice cream sundaes, but chocolate sundaes. There was nothing special about them other than the simple deliciousness of vanilla ice cream suffocated in Hershey's chocolate syrup. Katherine & I always wanted chocolate sundaes. And chocolate sundaes were always graciously served to us. And we always licked the chocolately-vanilla soupy bowl clean...well, at least I did...
Now, as a minister, I find my life revolving around Sundays. The first holy day of the week never strays too far from my thoughts or my responsibilities. And no matter how wonderfully smooth or emotionally challenging Sundays can be...My hope is that this day can be covered in something so sweet that a person can't help but lick the bowl when the sun goes to bed on Sunday night. Because that day was full of deep love and authentic community. Because that day was unlike any other day of the week. It was Sabbath. It was worship. It was sacred. I'm not a minister who thinks that church & faith can only happen when bottoms are plopped down in the pews at 8:30 or 10:45 on Sunday mornings. Church happens everywhere on every day and our faith guides us in all that we do. But there is still something sweet about Sundays. And because I'm a minister, Sunday is always sneaking up behind me, peaking over my shoulder ever so gently...and asking me if I'm ready for a scoop. Have I prayed enough about Sunday?...Have I prepared myself to lead this group of people in worship? And every single Sunday, when the orange sun fades to a soft glow, I want to say, yep...that was a sweet Sunday, it was covered in the tastiest chocolate syrup that the Holy Spirit could provide. It was covered in love, and purpose, and strength. So let's lick the bowl clean and call it a night.
Papa's chocolate sundaes are where I'm from....and chocolate Sundays are where I find myself at age 28...with all my senses tuned in to God...trying to taste the goodness of the Holy Spirit at work in every aspect of this sweet life.