Mary Did You Know

Pierre Fontenot Monday, February 20, 2023 Comments Off on Mary Did You Know
Mary Did You Know

I don’t January like I used to January.  

Thank you, aging.

Back when my hairs were many, and dark, my New Year’s Resolutions were serious, but silly.  I had my facts wrong.  I thought time was cheap, and money was expensive; now that I’ve aged, I think time is treasure, and money is common.

Someone buying my latest book, Uncle P’s Morning Musings, asked me to write something in the front of it.   I wrote:

“…a book for people who are in awe of ever having a life, who are humble about still having a life, and are earnest about chasing purpose and meaning with what remains of it…”

I couldn’t have written that sentiment when I was younger, and I certainly couldn’t have written a book deserving of that sentiment, until now.  Unlike crops, people don’t get ripe at the same time.  For most of us, aging is required, to find out who we are, where we fit, what we do best.

My New Year’s Resolutions Are Different Now

When I was young, my goals and resolutions were like straight lines.  Took me some decades to see that nature doesn’t have many straight lines.  Maybe I should catch the hint.

We’re all capable of having some Mary Did You Know effect in our little common lives. Here’s Florence Owen Thompson, captured by Dorothea Lange in that famous photograph, titled Migrant Mother. Neither Lange nor Thompson has any idea how great an effect that picture would have, on empathy, and change, on perspective and gratefulness.

Forty years ago I cared what acquaintances thought about the car I drove.  Aging took care of that.  These days, I care about God sense and common sense.

I don’t have a bucket list, in the usual sense.  I’d rather arrive at a Being place, than go to a Going place.  

When I was younger, I thought aging would be to grownups what summer vacation was to school kids, do a few chores, but mostly play all day, and hope for no rain.

I thought all the doing would be done.  But I don’t feel Done.  I’m not over the hill; I’m still climbing the hill.  And I love that!  I’m as zesty about life as I was mid-20s.  But now, I’ve got more get-it.

Too Busy Being To Know What We’re Building

Other day I did a cemetery visit.  I was sitting on the foot of my mother’s grave, a cup of coffee on the seam between she and Dad, under sky blue, sun friendly, when I got the urge to say a prayer, told God, “I wouldn’t mind another year like last year…”

It was a year full of seeking, and finding.  One of my favorites was a thing I labeled Mary Did You Know.  There was the song, standing alone, with its sentiments… until I heard a quote in a sermon, about the early church, how they “didn’t know how big this would get.”  Bing went my bells!

Here are these simple people, robes ‘n sandals, talking to people in handfuls ‘n dozens, having “house church” in homes with dirt floors, they have NO IDEA that they are laying the foundation for a church that will total into the billions, and all those souls were at stake…

It’s Peter Did You Know, it’s Paul Did You Know, it’s Matthew, Mark, Luke and John Did You know, and the answer is, NO, none of them knew…

Just seconds after that insight hit me, I connected another dot – my great-grandmother, who I have never met…  Her name was Estelle, and it’s her, walking the dirt road in the dark, bringing my father to the little country church, with the hand-made benches and pews, she’s a core reason my father became a Christian, and O the people that affected, including me…

Daddy Did You Know

Let me take this Mary-Did-You-Know theme further, to my father’s aging times.

He’s retired by then.  A widower.  His ears are old, his TV plays too loud, he thought his useful days were behind him.  But he kept doing life right, even if life was smaller.  There was a Market Basket nearby.  He’d go, not for the food, but for the people.  He believed that “People need to feel seen.”   He’d make eye contact with strangers, give them a head nod, that gentle smile, find something to compliment about them, maybe let them cut in front of him at checkout, maybe that’s all it amounted to, but they felt better.  

Daddy Did You Know?  That anybody noticed?  That I noticed?

We got three months warning with Dad.  You’d think that dying would be such a falling and smalling thing, but his character and example, the whole coming-together of his life, felt like High Church, the best of him, the best of God within someone…

He was losing weight, losing appetite, losing energy, but he was showing character, showing Fruits of the Spirit, showing the harvest, of a life lived right.

Daddy, Did You Know?

5 Fishes, 2 Loaves

Take heed, everyone.  As long as we’re here, as long as we’re open to God, we can be of use.  Even unto our last breath.

When I was 25, my January goals would be, more money, more stuff, more elevation of my social situation.

Now my yearly goal is as simple as a plain prayer, “You made me / You know me / Father knows best / Put me to Purpose / Take my meaning and make it Meaningful.”

What if, in heaven, we all get this Mary Did You Know moment, where we find out that some of our best contributions were in common moments, doing the right thing, for the right reasons, and it was God that turned them into a variation of the miracle of the 5 fishes and 2 loaves of bread…


All four of Uncle P’s books can be found at: Expressions (3100 Ryan Street in Lake Charles) and Flock o’ Five (217 E. Thomas in Sulphur).

Interested in contacting Uncle P about public speaking?  Need books mailed?  Email

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