Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

Sept. 20, 2004

What religions have in common

In the movie “Blackrobe,” from the novel by Brian Moore, the Native Americans asked the missionary, “Blackrobe, do you love us?”

Their community had just been decimated by small pox and many of them were all set to blame the missionary for bringing this evil upon them.

The question startled the “blackrobe” and gave him pause, but when he finally said to them, “Yes. Yes. I do love you,” the chief told him, “Then baptize us!”

Last Sunday, I had the privilege of attending a “Rally Sunday” at a Lutheran church with some close friends. It was the Sunday that launched their Sunday School program for the year, and all the teachers, parents, and children pledged their support for the program.

The director of religious education asked these questions of their pastor, the same sort of question the Indians asked the blackrobe:

“Will you love these people in the name of the Lord in whose place you stand?

“Will you lead them by your example?

“Will you live your life so that God will be clearly present in your actions and clearly heard in your words?

“Will you tell them no more and no less than the truth?

“Will you be with them in their joys and in their sorrows?

“Will you let them know that they need to walk through no darkness alone?

“Will you rely not on your own strength, but on God to sustain you in all things?”

The pastor answered each question, “Yes, I will.”

The pastor then remarked, “I have a passion for this program because, as a church, we need our young people so very much that we can say we are always only one generation removed from extinction.”

I went away from there thinking, “Lucky church. Lucky people.”

I am grateful there are such places. Extinction will be a long ways off.

* * * * *

Speaking of things religious, I got some good advice on reading the Bible last week, as well.

In reading the Gospels, there are four questions to ask ourselves:

(1) How does Jesus reveal Himself in this passage?

(2) What is He saying to me, personally?

(3) What is He asking me to do?

(4) What is my response?

I remember Mary

It all started on the school playground with “Fatty, Fatty Two by Four, couldn’t get through the kitchen door,” and ended at a premature graveside after the doctors had missed the early cancer diagnosis because they couldn’t think of anything apart from her weight problem.

In high school, she didn’t get a date for the prom, but she was elected Valentine Queen as a joke and, trying to be a good sport, accepted the crown, but broke down crying in the middle of it.

She was the most effective social worker I had ever known, but she never went very far in the profession because of her appearance.

I was privileged to be her friend. Only far into the friendship, when she knew she was dying, did she confide in me some of the things she had faced in her lifetime of being overweight.

It was not uncommon for strangers to insult her at the grocery store when she shopped. No men ever held open the door for her. She spent her entire life trying one diet after another. There was seldom a place where she could feel safe from the contempt, pity, or scorn of others.

She poured her life out in the service of others, most especially her children, who did “rise up and call her blessed” at the end.

I think of her often, especially whenever I see a large woman going about her work with a smile on her face.

I am grateful there aren’t many prejudices left in our culture, but this one is still there. No wonder teen-aged girls suffer from depression, with the constant worry of how they look.

Britney Spears as role model? Yes, sir. I’m not kidding. It seems, sometimes, that no matter how intelligent or kind or hard working a girl is, if she is not physically attractive according to bikini standards, all is for nought.

Armed Forces coordination

A veteran friend told me recently, that when he was stationed in Hawaii in the U.S. Navy, his wife was pregnant while he was on a deployment, but he didn’t have to worry because she was driven to an Army Hospital when her time came by a U.S. Airman, and their firstborn son was delivered by a U.S. Marine Corps physician.

I didn’t ask if the son grew up to become a Coast Guardsman.

* * *

Next week, I will get back to some Waverly news. I promise.


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