Tag Archives: reflection

approaching one year

 

This time last year, I noticed an acute struggle to remain honest about all the ugliness of all that was going on while fighting to remain, above all, most hopeful; I decided that writing would help hold me accountable.

The lens of passing time has no doubt created opportunities to be most hopeful, and trying to hold myself to processing difficulties through that very lens, almost one year later, has no doubt proven redemptive.

Next Wednesday will mark one year of http://www.mosthopeful.com, so over the next few days, I am going to celebrate a year of writing by posting the most read blog posts, as well as some of my favorite guest posts. It’s humbling experience to see what resonates that most…

Thanks for the accountability that community forces in trying to tell the truth about a world that goes not well, and the promise of a kingdom come. “We cannot walk alone…”

djordan
Pine Tree

Approaching one year: From the Archives

View original post from September 3, 2011

 

if you need anything, just call

 

Circa 1987

Birdie and Donald, circa 1987

Birdie came to our home every single Wednesday for as long as I can remember. She worked for my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandmother, my great aunt and uncle, and my great-great aunts in whose home I live today on Pine Tree.

Two days after finally seeing the movie The Help, I stopped by my grandmother’s house. Pulling a coke zero out of her fridge, I noticed this picture pinned to the side with a magnet. There is another picture of Birdie and my cousin Katie that has been on the front of the fridge for as long as I can remember, but I have never, ever, seen this picture before. I showed it to my grandmother who began to cry, me soon to follow.

My memories of Birdie include her delicious buttermilk biscuits which I was never allowed to request that she make unless I got mom’s permission first. (I assume that these instructions were due to my waiting for mom to be somewhere else in the house, and then my asking Birdie to make things for me that I didn’t need because I knew Birdie would hook me up.) Along the same lines, I also remember the days that I wouldn’t clean my room because I knew Birdie was coming. Mom would ask Birdie not to clean my room on those days, because it was not her job to pick up my mess. Birdie would agree, and then after washing my sheets, she would stack all my clutter from bedroom to closet in neat piles on the bed that had corresponding locations on the shelves or in the drawers. Afterward, she would wink and tell me that she couldn’t clean up my room because it wasn’t her job to pick up my mess. I would put away the stacks quickly, and we both made it below the radar.

She spoiled me for sure despite my parents’ best efforts otherwise.

What I remember the most, however, is the conversation we would have every Wednesday afternoon when dropping Birdie off for the day. I would be riding in the back of our old Toyota van, and as Birdie got out of the passenger seat, I would slide the huge back door open and call out, “Birdie! If you ever need anything just call!”

Every week, the same process. The same line.

I had no idea how much Birdie needed, and how much I had in comparison. I also didn’t know how much she had that I needed like my life depended on it. I remember riding with my parents out to Birdie’s house one night so Dad could fix her water heater, and I was struck with the old, country house. Its dark walls and hanging, exposed lightbulbs. All perfectly kept and cared for. Birdie did not live like I lived, but she never called to say she needed anything from me. Birdie became magical that evening.

I think about how often even still in my own life, I call out strikingly ignorant offers to help others from my buckled up seat in the back of the van. Birdie’s legacy lives on in our family as humble, gentle, strong and faithful. She gave all she had to her church and to her family. Even still, I sit writing this in a home she has worked to make a home more than I have in my seven years here.

Mom told me one day as Birdie was walking off and I pulled the heavy sliding door closed, “Birdie will be your boss in heaven, Donald. Don’t forget that.” That day, I did not understand that comment at all.

As mom and dad and I walked out of the movie this past week, it was that phrase that immediately came to mind.

I’m only beginning to understand.

djordan
Pine Tree

 

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the last of the twenties

It is not uncommon to think we know exactly who matters and exactly who will shape the course of our future, or join us as it shapes. At the ripe age of 16, there were several folks who would be those people. They filled the shop for a surprise party that I was too dumb to figure out. Those people still remain friends, and fewer remain close. At 18, we headed to Memphis in a limo and made predictions about the future; we were right on with most of them. And now, at 29, we will head again to Memphis for the last birthday of the twenties. All that we did know, and all that we didn’t know, wrapped up like a gift for the opening.

I remember my high school English teacher, Mrs. Kee telling us once in class that we would never talk to the people we were friends with in high school after we graduated. She was right in most things, crazy in many, but wrong about that. Yet knowing how she worked, and how crazy she was, maybe that was a dare, a challenge, a kind of psychological game to make us make it work.

And now, looking at the last of the twenties, it has worked. The picture above was taken laying down on Mom and Dad’s foyer rug on mine and Brooke’s 21st birthday. We will hop in a limo later this week to celebrate the 29th.

I suspect I can speak for all of us to say it’s a privilege to celebrate with old friends.

The privilege is likely greater, though, that the circle has grown. When I was laying down on the carpet back then, I would never have imagined the role those folks would play in my life, but I would have expected it. What I never would have expected, however, is the role that new friends who have entered the circle would play––how they would become crucial pieces in the story of who I am and who I am becoming.

There would have been no way to know.

Even 8 years ago, two years ago, I would not have guessed what people who crash into the circle would bring, how they would change my mind, broaden my understanding, invigorate my imagination, and strengthen my hope in the already-not yet kingdom come on earth as in heaven. From West Texas to South Africa; from a desert meal in Israel to a client in a trailer in Lexington; from the front porch on Pine Tree to the valleys of Napa; from a group of those wrestling with grief to a classroom of those disciplining hope; from cheese and toast around the kitchen counter to hors’ doeuvres on white tablecloths under candlelight, from a rocking chair in Nicaragua to a hammock on Pleasant Plains; from a limo ride over ten years ago to a limo ride today, I am now more sure than ever:

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
+ Psalm 27:13

djordan
Pine Tree

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