Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It Takes a Village

I grew up in a quiet little village on the edge of Charleston harbor.   This village is no longer sleepy nor is it little.  It is now one of the largest cities in the state.  It was, however, far from that in my growing up years. 
 
The world of my childhood was bounded on the west by the high bluffs that overlook the harbor.  A tidal creed marked the northern extent of the village.  Just outside of town were tomato and cucumber fields that seemed to my young mind to be the edge of the world.  What could possibly be beyond? 

The home in which I grew up was two blocks back from Charleston Harbor.  The house dates to the early 1800’s; it is to this day beautiful and unique.  When I drive by that old place today, extraordinarily happy memories come flooding back. 

Everything in my world was within easy bicycle-riding distance.  Summers growing up there were especially wonderful times.  Once school was out, shoes were largely an unnecessary item.  A vivid childhood memory is how odd and restricting it was to put on shoes once a week to go to church.  I spent many  hours  fishing  and  crabbing  in  the  creek,  and  my  very  earliest entrepreneurial endeavor was selling crabs to Ms. McNulta.  I later delivered eggs around town for Mr. Scott who owned a chicken farm across and up the creek.  I found out, however, what real work was like when I was old enough to work in the tomato and cucumber packing sheds out on the edge of town.

Family, school and this village defined my world and gave structure and meaning to my life, but it was in the church just around the corner that I came to know what living life was really all about.  My brother, sister and I were there every Sunday; my mother saw to that.  In that church family were people like Mrs. Green, Mrs. Boench, Mrs. Dupre, the Covington’s, the Cain’s, my priest Mr. Catlin and many others who became very important to me.  They nurtured me in the Faith and grew me up in the Lord.  I discovered through them something of what it means to love and serve the Lord.  Today I am still on that journey of discovery.

I eventually went off to Clemson and found out what was beyond those tomato and cucumber fields.  My family, my village and my church family had taught me what I needed to know to love God and live life rightly.  I am extraordinarily grateful to God and to them.

Here at Holy Trinity children and young people are becoming increasingly a part of our parish family.  We have all heard the old third world saying, “It takes and village to raise a child.”  God is surely going to be calling on us to be that “village” for yet unnamed children He will bring to us?   We will be that place where these young people will learn to love God and live life rightly?   

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Rhythm of Life

I was invited by my son and his rector to baptize my grandson.  As it was infant baptism, I cradled that little boy in my left arm and held his head in the palm of my hand.  As I poured   water   over   his forehead, his blue eyes looked penetratingly into mine, and it was as if he were saying, “This is an important moment, isn’t it granddaddy?” 
It is not likely those were my infant grandson’s thoughts, but they surely were mine.   This baptism was for him the beginning point of a life destined for a full and rich relationship with God.  My grandson’s parents and Godparents vowed to point him continually toward God such that he grows in the Lord as he grows in years.  

One of their duties will be to reveal to this young man a rhythm and cadence to his life that will weave his life into the very life of God.  Our lives, of course, have a natural cadence.  We rise to work and rest in the evening.  We work for six days and turn aside from our labors on the seventh.  We live our lives according to the seasons of the year and the seasons of our lives, from childhood to old age.

We Christians, however, teach our children to overlay this rhythm of life with another rhythm. One of the first rhythms of life we teach our children is pray at meals and kneel at their bedside each evening.   The God-ordained weekly rhythm we pass on to our children is that of God gathering us in on the Lord’s Day to honor Him.  We teach the yearly rhythm of the Christian year which flows year after year between the two great pinnacles of Faith, Christmas and Easter.  And finally, we teach our children to weave God into the rhythm of their entire lives through Sacraments and Ordinances that become for them touchstones with God, such as this, my Grandson’s baptism.

Sometimes the cadence of our lives is not predictable.  We have highs and lows, mountaintop experiences and times of slugging it out in the dark valleys of our lives.  We have life-transforming encounters with God, while at other times wander through arid places trusting only in the knowledge that God is on the far side of our current wilderness.  Even in our wilderness experiences, however, there is a rhythm as we have many wilderness times to repeatedly find God on the far side.

My grandson’s baptism was, among other things, about taking on this rhythm and cadence that weaves him into the purposes and plans that God has for Him.  A life well lived is one that has appropriated this God-given rhythm.  It would not make sense to live life to any other beat.