Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Birds of a Feather...Don't Always Flock Together

Courtesy T. McFerrin Greene

My poor Mamma. She and the earnest young Bible college student had a lot in common. She thought he was as lost and undone as he assessed our group of young people to be. One of the last things we joked about before they turned off the vent and let her drift away was how Heaven was going to be laid out. Funny how you can joke about things like that with someone on the verge of Heaven's gate when they are sure that is where they are headed.

Before Mamma Had Reason to Fear
She was faithful to ask any stranger, after making polite pleasantries, where they were headed for eternity and where they were spending their Sundays before they went there. Shoot! She called ME every Sunday till I was about 45 to ask ME where I had gone to services that day! She never got over my jumping ship to marry a Southern Baptist and morphing into a Reformed Presbyterian. She forgave me, but she never got over it. Funny how we hold those convictions so hard and fast isn't it?

Of course, I had spent plenty of time in my youth breaking her in so that my newly adopted denominational home wasn't a complete shock. Take for instance when I allowed that my best friend was an agnostic...Lord-EE! You can imagine that when my friend up and married an atheist, poor old mom nearly needed therapy. Of course, she didn't believe in that either, LOL! As if I weren't enough of a challenge, within the last year of her life, mom was HORRIFIED to learn that I had known some of my friends for nearly a decade and did NOT know where they attended church.

Daddy Preached on Their Wedding Day
I assured her that these friends were folks who had my back, prayed for me and with me, and demonstrated a devoted faith. In fact, I assured her, I was so convinced of their steadfast faith, I really didn't CARE where they went to church, how they dressed, what music they listened to, or movies/TV shows they watched. I didn't even care which version of the Bible they read: KJV, NKJV, NIV, NAS, etc. I'm not sure, but I think she looked up the word 'blasphemous' then to make sure I wasn't guilty.

I have to tell you tho', the nearer her eternity drew, the less she cared about the tag someone wore to identify themselves spiritually or what church he/she called home. One of our one-sided, post-ventilator conversations went like this: 
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
You know...when you get to Heaven, it is NOT going to be divided up into sections so that the Pentecostals don't have to mix with the Baptists, and the Methodists don't have to mix with the Presbyterians.”  

At that point, she raised her shoulders and eyebrows and opened her mouth in a perfect 'O' to indicate her mock shock and surprise.

In fact,” I'd go on, “I think God is gonna get a knee slapping chuckle when we all get there. I can just see him rolling out those denominational rule books and perusing them with all of us watching. He's gonna shake his head at some stuff, look up skeptically and say, 'You thought WHAT? How in the WORLD did you come up with THAT drivel?' Then, he'll look down in the next section, burst out laughing, and say, 'Ah...no...just no...when I wrote my Word down for you...I never meant THAT!' A little later on, he will smile pensively and say, 'Right there...yep...that was the ticket!' I imagine he is gonna nail us all and use our own sanctimony to do it. And then, tell us he loves us anyway because we loved his Son."

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
In earlier years, a conversation like that would have driven her right over the edge. But, with the veil of Heaven parting to let her slip to the other side, she seemed to get it. Either that, or she was just an old lady tolerating an uppity y'ung 'un knowing I'd get mine in the end! Nearest the end, she smiled and nodded indicating she was at peace sharing Heaven with the wonderful mix of folks God would welcome home for eternity.

When I was in my 20's and she nursed her horror at my cavorting with the unwashed heathen like my agnostic friend, she was always afraid. See.... I got that fraidy cat thing honest. She was afraid I'd veer away from the faith she held so dear. Wonder if she'd be relieved to know I haven't so much veered as I have engaged in a wrestling match of Old Testament proportions? 

Needless to say, she was ecstatic when she learned that both my agnostic friend and her atheist husband had found a faith of their own. Not only do they attend a church of their choice, when my old life imploded and most everyone abandoned us, that friend was there. Faithful, steady. She sent ME verses from the Bible meant to give me the courage to make it one more day. I cried in absolute amazed wonder every time. In the end, mamma rejoiced in the love my friend and I shared for over 3 decades. She's waiting for us now; I know she is.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
What if I had given in to my mother's fear? What if I had considered one of the dearest friends of my life an unwashed heathen too scary to embrace? At least that was one time I WASN'T a fraidy cat!
And that young fella in the park that day? I'm old enough to know now. Not only was he sincere, he was also a sincere fraidy cat. Just like my mom. They might not have ever flocked together, but they were birds of a feather. Each afraid that someone else's faith might be just misguided enough to utterly corrupt theirs. I'm glad my mom got over that. I sure hope he has by now. Heaven will be kinda lonely without him in my section. After all, I've been saving up a joke for him for about 23 yrs now!

Ok, fraidy cats, love you long and strong. You know me...I can't tell a straight story. I have to meander some. Thanks for coming along for the adventure. Don't you dare leave me alone out here in the dark of cyber-space. Come back again tomorrow. You might just be surprised where we are headed. I think I will be too! 

John 4:18 (Bible in Basic English)
There is no fear in love: true love has no room for fear, because where fear is, there is pain; and he who is not free from fear is not complete in love.

  For Elizabeth...because she never jumped ship......


  1. Nice ending CA! Truly God is going to have that checklist of our denominational nonsense! "What - you thought I meant, THAT?" HOW?

  2. Love the comments on denominational nonsense...so true...and yet, aren't we so messed up on these issues today!

  3. Thanks, Girls. If Jesus had been as threatened by us as 'we' are by each other.....kinda makes you quiver, doesn't it?