I just wanted to thank everyone who visited or played a part in the services for my Nana, Thelma Edge, yesterday. We knew that it was the middle of a workday, in the middle of COVID, and far away from those of you who don’t live in “the center of the universe” (Pacolet inside joke). So I’m sorry for those of you who may have wanted to attend but couldn’t — we all extend our love to you and greatly appreciate your love for us and for her. Having said that, the turnout of so many sweet friends and family just blew us away. The flow of new stories, smiles, hugs and encouragement never once stopped and kept us all together with a community of “family” that might not necessarily be tied together by the bonds of blood and marriage — but were clearly tied together by the bond of love.
From the morning family gathering at my mom and dad’s house, with us all eating hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts and coffee that Pam Easler stuck past the healthy foods police ( you know who you are and I love you for it! ) — and talking about so many things that either made us laugh or cry. Like the very deep conversations with Debbie Ford Cromer, Patra Ford, Lynn Davis and Butch Davis about how there are seasons of this Christian walk that will truly stretch our faith and have us in places where we don’t have any answers for “Why?!!!” but we have God with us to see us through. Like deep and hopeful conversations with Betty Hutt and Vicky Polk we can have about the gospel, the all sufficient power of the blood of Christ, grace instead of works, and the hope we can find in the Lord when coming to Him with hard questions about chronic disease, suffering in the world, addictions, overdose, and even deep despair and suicide. And even the laughing about how different and unique our perspectives might be on “our own funeral services” or hilarious stories about Nana and Bill or the family and all of our quirks and general craziness. Some family stories stay safely within the 4 walls of the family homes, ha!
And the gathering and receiving of friends — oh my goodness! There are far too many stories and names to even begin to list them here. But the running theme throughout was that in “the Pacolet we know and love”, we are all family — that you are a “cuz” not just because of immediate blood or marriage, but because of the love and community — and so many times we laughed and encouraged each other knowing that we truly are all related as family — regardless of name, Job, position, address, area code, income, race, language, etc. Pacolet and Brown’s Chapel church and that white house on the hill on Cleveland Street seem they might always be Home, might always be the center of the universe, might always be my closest glimpse of what heaven might be like from this side of the veil. Not because of any big fancy houses, not because of streets paved in gold, not because of health, wealth and prosperity — because your early eyes will not see those things in Pacolet. But because of something that is truly rare, precious, and of eternal value — souls touched by the hand of God, birthing a community that lives one another. I had so many “favorites” that I got to hug and tell them one more time that I love them — and that is priceless.
And the service! I have always loved the pure worship that Steve and Wanda Wall have brought through the choir at Brown’s Chapel, because of you have heard me talk about wisp before — i always will say that the heart of the singing is so much more powerful than the polish. But not only was there such heart in the worship — it was for my ears like God had polished it into a fine gold arrow. And that arrow somehow pierced me so accurately and deeply in my innermost heart, but instead of striking me dead, renewed my heart and restored my hope. Ralph and Sherry Jett and their families have been at the very heart of the Brown’s Chapel church and to have them lead off and then everyone in attendance join them in the last verse of “How Great Thou Art” was so powerful that it was as if the earth shook around my very soul. And the beautiful encouragement of Wanda Wall singing “What a Day That Will Be” reminded me of how much sweeter that day becomes for me as more loved ones depart this temporary place for our “Forever Home”. And Ralph’s very real, very transparent, very intimate message to our family was for me as if Christ Himself spoke from the lips of his messenger EXACTLY what each of us needed to hear to comfort us in this time. And Chip Coleman’s compelling retelling of Nana and Bill’s testimony of hearing the call and following was exactly what was needed to stir both the believer and unbeliever to action. And Floyd’s Chapel has so many memories for me and we are grateful to them as well. Afterwards, I walked through to see so many name on stones that I either knew personally or at least knew the families — and paused at several where wonderful memories sprung up from the grave into my consciousness.
Spending time together afterwards, then traveling the familiar roads to see these places from my childhood once again was a special blessing. It is easy to get busy with work and responsibilities and look up, and another generation has passed by and another steps up to the plate for their time at bat.
At these things, we always say “We need to get together…” and we get busy again and we forget. This time I want us to get together not just because of a wedding or funeral. I’m thinking that something in May where we set a date, have food, encourage others to bring food and/or just themselves, and just celebrate family, community, a people that “love one another” where everyone is welcome. Maybe you’d be interested in joining us too?