Here, There or In The Air

My Paw Paw used to say this in conversations with others as a good-bye greeting. He’d bellow, “Here, there or in the air.”

Although, I only knew my grandfather til I was 16 and my time with him was limited, I grew up with a very vivid memory of his legacy and all that went with it. In my mind, he was a sort of “Johnny Cash/Al Capone/Billy Graham” sort of character. Grander than life, full of colloquialism and most especially mystery.

I knew his story like the back of my hand as my father, his 1st born son, would read the “track” written about my grandfather every christmas before we opened presents.

Following the footsteps of his elders, raised in Indiana by outlaws, bootleggers and God-haters, my grandfather found himself in the Indiana State Penitentiary. He was a hard fellow with 30 day old twins (my father and uncle), a daughter from a previous relationship (my aunt) and married to a teen wife.

While in prison he found himself in the “hole” as they call it. The only way out was to attend a chapel service. He sat reluctantly, listening to a man preach about the cross and a blind girl sing, “No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus”. Although, I always thought it was “The Old Rugged Cross” Either way,  it was there that the story changed for my Paw Paw. He sat, his mind wrestling and felt a tug on his heart, maybe a whisper in his ear. He began to argue, “I’m not selling out to some sky pilot in the sky!” he said to himself, “I did the time, I can do the crime” but his heart betrayed his hard prideful mind as he began to feel his feet move out from under him. Eventually, he submitted to the call and without hesitation walked towards the altar saying, “swim, sink or die, it’s all the way with Jesus.”  And, that was that. He laid his life down, came home and began to serve those down trodden and tired.

As my story continues to evolve I find I am becoming more and more drawn to the past characters in my lineage and the impact this story has had on my life is profound.

I was not raised by God-haters and criminals, rather a father and mother walking the continued path of commitment and service to the triune God. I know they each had to come to a place of surrender and acknowledgement of that path but was it a little easier because of the foundation laid?

I’m not so sure. Although I do believe that environment has something to do with our belief systems and ideal, I think that deep down, despite our circumstance we are all faced with the same question. Do we recognize the “hole” we are in (this can be as drastic as my grandfather or a realization that we have failed to love) and are we willing to swim sink or die to reach up out towards the provision that God has for us?

I used to think that if it weren’t for my grandfather changing directions we’d all be going to hell in a hand basket and maybe we would, but I believe that God is faithful and whether it was my grandfather, my father or myself, there would be an opportunity. I am thankful for my grandfather’s choice and I think his story is amazing but I also know that to live vicariously through his testimony is to continue to live in the hole. It’s just a pretty hole.

And so, the question becomes why does it matter then, to remember our heritage? My conclusion is that it matters because the story of my lineage testifies of God’s presence and desire to connect with all people even those in the “hole”, which is why I especially love my Paw Paw’s quote, “Here, there or in the air.” It’s inclusive and far-sighted. We are one body, all in the same boat. If one of us falls, we all fall. My desire is that we would focus not on condemning those around us but just as my grandfather did, looking in the mirror to see our own junk and testifying about God’s amazing love and amazing grace. I believe that the way to God is Christ and Christ is for everyone.

EXCLUSIVE music video by FARSON’S ARMY, from the Haunted Cassette Tapes release, “REFORMED RAVER” created a video mixing old footage of our Paw Paw to electronic music.

On Hospitality and Citizenship

I’ve had random thoughts racing through my mind all day. They’re all seemingly important but not necessarily connected. So, I chalk it up to cabin fever.

First thought: I have moved over 19 times in my life. I have lived on three continents and in 5 US states. I have been the visitor and the local.  Through all of these moves I have come to understand this; being hospitable is crucial. I’m not convinced that folks understand the impact they have on others and the life-giving ability they have to make someone feel at “home.” To bring someone into the fold, to treat one like kinsfolk. That is the calling for us all. Not just the few Martha Stewards out there (bless their hearts)…

Second thought: Craig is going to the consulate office tomorrow to take his big test to become an American Citizen.  Australia and the US have an agreement allowing him dual citizenship.

What does it all mean? Well, first and foremost, he’ll be able to vote. When I met Craig 12 years ago, he was in politically based punk band. Typical of most punk rockers,  he was pretty opinionated about the powers that be and the way the poor and downtrodden are oppressed. However, living as an alien (legally but still an outsider) pulls a bit of voice out of one and for the past 10 years or so he has been observant but relatively silent on most issues. As we near his citizenship I have noticed his voice getting louder and I wonder… if  becoming a citizen makes a difference in one’s credibility or feeling of credibility?

Third thought: The house is getting in order for our grand gallery night event coming up this weekend. It was started purely as a way to make friends and build community with like-minded creative folk. And to support the arts, which we love dearly.  In a sports town that over shadows the arts this event has been a diamond in the rough for us. We are looking forward to hosting our 4th and possibly final gallery night.  How it works: We invite about 15 local fine artists to show 3-5 pieces.  We live in an old Victorian house in Historic Astor Park. We take all of our decor down in the 4 lower main rooms and use them as the gallery walls. The kitchen is used for a delicious spread of desserts, wine and cheese. We also invite many of our musically inclined friends to perform throughout the night.

As we prepare to move on this fall, our hope is that folks in this area will continue to see the value in creating and connecting with each other. I hope that we inspired those we met to be more hospitable. To reach out to those who are “visitors” and bring them into the fold.

~jh