Parson Brown's Hebrew word for the day...

We spent Thanksgiving week in Arkansas. An author I like calls the state 'Crackeropolis.' I think that's rather funny. Two and a half days at my sister-in-law's house and two and a half days with my dad and was a Goldilocks week - not too much, not too little, just right. One morning, after pumpkin bread and Community coffee, I opened the decorative chest that holds my parents' photographs and sat down to, as the Hebrews say, zakar - to remember. In many ways that chest is an ark of family covenant, housing boxes upon envelopes upon folders, all filled with spots of time from our lives written on tablets of film. My dad plopped down, saying 'I like remembering too.' My brother joined us.

So the leader of the band and his sons did just that, zakar. We weren't gathered around a screen, charmed by a prepackaged soundtrack from Apple, but rather shoulder to shoulder, with the tick of the heater nearby, carefully passing the texture of sacred time back and forth between us saying 'gosh, look at this' and 'what was her name?' and 'hey, nice Members Only jacket' and 'I sure miss him.' There was the picture of the church where I prayed Jesus into my heart. There were poses of Christmas mornings past, us groggy-eyed in front of the trees love always decorated. Family reunions. Summer vacations. Bicentennial Sunday, where we were all dressed up in colonial garb, me wearing (are you ready?) a puffy shirt. And then there were the old ones, fragile glances into a world of black and white, a time when yes, things seemed simpler. One of the old ones was a large 8x10 of my parents holding a butterball - me. I looked up at my dad sitting nearby, seventy years old now, eyes greying, and I looked back at the picture and suddenly he's in the pride of life, dark-haired, eyes full of promise, young wife on his arm and firstborn son in his hands. One of us, I cannot remember who and it doesn't matter anyway, said 'our lives are precious, aren't they?' The answer was not spoken but written with water that pooled our eyes and wet our cheeks: 'Yes, yes they are.'

I realize one can get 'lost' in reverie or even live in the past, neither very beneficial for yourself and those around you. But I also realize that many of us, myself included, don't take the time to zakar and that sin of omission renders us a bunch of ingrates, a condition that seems to be rampant these days and, I believe, an aroma quite unbecoming for one who once prayed Jesus into his heart to stay. Advent is a time of looking ahead, no doubt, but it is also a time of raising the question - 'our lives are precious, aren't they?' and remembering, often with words not spoken, the answer - 'Yes, yes they are.'



  1. Anonymous11:18 AM

    John, this is so precious and yes I think there isnt enough of the zakar in our lives or our childrens. Everything for the grandkids is canned , Since I am very close to your Mom, Dad and Shawn, I can just visualize this magic moment of remembering and also asking " Who were they , etc" Even tho these times bring tears to our eyes , they are precious moments and am so glad you, Shawn and families had this time to spend with the "Leader of the band and his beautiful wife." Your Cuz, Juanita, MAdera,Ca

  2. Anonymous11:00 PM

    Just perfect. Far more coming offline...

    Your other brother,