Rev. Joe Walker, Minister of Congregational Care

Even in the gathering dusk the unadorned concrete slab on its native rock foundation was still warm from the summer sun. My grandmother, “Grams,” and I settled on the edge facing east; she with her feet on the roughhewn stone steps while I dangled my gangly legs over the side.

This Fourth of July it was just the two of us at The Farm. But as we looked out at the front yard we “saw” family and friends who had commemorated Independence Day there over the years. Stories were punctuated with an appreciative head nod now and again.

My Grams was a get-to-the-point kind of person and so, she did. Grams was already 10 years a widow with a limited income and land to manage. I was, well, I was 17, all big dreams and unbridled energy – think “Tigger” from the Winnie the Pooh stories. We could see the “City” (suburbs) marching towards the farms around us – towards us.

Grams had decided to sell her beloved home of a half-century.

More head nods, but this time, gestures of resignation.

In the face of the inevitable, we fell silent. In jarring juxtaposition, fireworks burst bright against the now darkened sky.

Perhaps you, too, have vivid memories of holidays during which after-dinner conversations both embraced cherished memories and set a trajectory for the future of a loved one or the family. Those may have been joyous occasions – the announcement of an engagement or pregnancy. Other times they may have been more somber – marking the conclusion of a chapter of life. Sometimes they were simply an opportunity to record memories for posterity – stories to instruct future generations or to be celebrated when the time comes to honor a life well-lived.

Whatever your family configuration or holiday plans, let us pause at some point to pray for the conversations we, or family and friends, may be of part of this season. Where there is joyous news – may it be well-celebrated. Where there are difficult choices – may grace and patience guide the discernment. Where there are stories we will want to retell years down the road – may someone remember to write them down in a safe place.