Pierre Fontenot Thursday, January 22, 2015 0

Early on I wanted to matter.


As a kid I saw adults living dud lives and swore Not Me.


And then…look how I’ve lived so much of it…


I gave such energy trying to cheat myself towards status and reaching it I found status to be all bun and no burger.  Lost on what to do to grow me I randomly adopted molehills and tried to grow them into mountains.


I’ve stretched the rubber bands of relationships, disappointed friends, disappointed family, burned bridges, stayed when I should’ve left, left when I should’ve stayed, and just generally come in for a grade of Average At Best.


And all along, there my father was…doing things his way…


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I grew up in his little life.  Billy Graham was filling stadiums and my dad was preaching in little country churches where the piano needed tuning, the pews were uncomfortable and the church register board listed attendance in two digits.  He worked side jobs and farmed to support his family.


His best sermons were to the same old faces.  While Billy Graham had herds come to the altar call, Dad spent much of his time one-on-one, with anonymous lives, lending an ear with one foot propped on the back bumper of his pickup.


It all seemed so small to the ambitious eyes of my youth.  I wanted to do more, get there quicker, speed it all up, and matter more.


I left for a little, then left for longer.  On return trips I’d find him The Same.  I hate to confess that I was this dumb, but there were times when I thought his stability was a kind of defeat.  That was before I realized how hard it is to surrender yourself to faith, how hard it is to hold yourself steady when tested high, low, right, left, front and behind.


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I’m All Eyes now as he heads to his end.  He’s summing up his life work right now.  I see such power in the accumulated good works of all those years.


You can’t hide in small towns.  You reap what you sow among your neighbors.  As my father nears his end I see the truth in their eyes, that they admire him, that they are grateful for that one-little-moment, that they’re looking at something rare and thinking how the community will have a hole in the floor when my father passes.


I see them look at him like I look at him, as one looking upon your Better.


Lookee here, Dad, lookee here, at how you ended up Mattering…


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He had it boiled down to pure simplicity.  Give yourself to God fresh every day.  Start your morning with innocence, set your eyes on His example, listen for the pregnant kicks of His spirit, do right, do more right, do the little and the little bit more, do when nobody is watching.


You put the 85 years and multiply times 365 and that’s a chunk of days…  The thing that most staggers me is how he sustained the 1-2-3 of keeping his life steady for all those days…  Easy days, boring days, nothing special days, grinding days, sad days, afraid days, wolf at the door days, he took them all with the same steady plan …


He was put here, in a small orbit, and I don’t think it ever occurred to him to wish a different orbit.  We mattered to him, and he wished us well, and wished to help us matter.  It seemed to keep his heart full.


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After all those decades of defining myself against my father I find myself wanting now to be more like him.  I can’t undo all my lost years, anymore than I can’t undo seeing my father’s life reaching full harvest.  Forgiving was easy for my father, and I could use a bit of that, to not grind my nose in the mess of all the used-to-be of my foolishness, but give myself permission to keep my soul simple, surrender my life back to the Giver and say, “Now what?”


I do want my life to matter.  Maybe, like my father’s, it’ll matter in the whispered tip-toes of Doing Unto Others with nary a trumpet to toot the moment…


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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is brought to you by Eighty-one where we hope you found your sermon somewhere this Sunday.