Home On The Fringe

Fringe Art

Contact Us

Recent Ramblings

The Chronicles

Fringe Reads

  • Powered by Blogger
  • Weblog Commenting and 

Trackback by HaloScan.com
  • Get StatCounter!

Thanksgiving, Ritual, Mystery: Family

The following is the first ever guest post, written by my dad. We roped him in and then tortured him with Blogger's penchant for losing hours and hours of effort and energy poured out onto the computer screen. We all seem to thrive on the extra pressure of NaBloPoMo, because even after days of complying with my kids' incessant demands, and now this "great idea of doing a guest post" for us, he hasn't kicked us out yet. Give him a round of applause, or offer him sainthood. One of the two, definitely.

Sometimes, seemingly unrelated stories actually have significant relationships to one another. Recently, my experience has attested to this truism again.

This Thanksgiving, my daughter, son-in-law, and two youngest grandchildren visited us for the first time in our new home since my spouse and I moved almost eight-hundred miles away from them three and a half years ago. I currently supervise a chaplaincy program at a small Christian college. A couple of years ago, in order to allow a group of pagan students to have an opportunity to meet officially on campus, and therefore to exist as a group at all on a purportedly religiously-inclusive campus, and because no other member of the staff or faculty had the courage to assume this role, I agreed to serve as the faculty advisor for this group. As one might expect, though, many of the conservative and fundamentalist Christians on campus (students, staff, and faculty) genuinely opposed, and even now continue to challenge, my action—often questioning whether or not I am Christian at all. Despite the difficulties that I have experienced for that decision, I possess and have communicated solid theological and institutional rationales to support my position and justify my actions in this regard.

Other members of our staff, however, recently invited my wife and I to a costume party at Halloween. We decided to attend the party: my wife dressed as a beautiful witch and I dressed as Edgar Allen Poe’s Raven. We had a wonderful time.

During the Thanksgiving visit from my first child and her precious family, we have had many enjoyable experiences. Among those experiences, we built a campfire late yesterday afternoon, on which after dark I later roasted marshmallows with my grandsons.

Having a healthy (not necessarily good) sense of humor and having a history of teasing my own children (including my daughter, of course) during their childhoods, I had a mischievous thought as we waited for the campfire to burn to coals for roasting marshmallows. I told my son-in-law, as we watched his sons and my grandsons play in the yard, that it would be funny, if I wore my raven costume and emerged from the forest behind our home into the yard as the boys played. He told me that he would give me twenty dollars if I would do it. Needing only the encouragement, however, I went inside the house and put on the costume, while he and my daughter maneuvered my grandsons so that they would not see me run into the forest for this event. As I waited in the forest, he told my grandsons a story about a magical raven who would appear if they would call to him: “caw, caw, caw.” As my son-in-law told the story, I hid in the forest, just out of sight, behind some trees and bushes, dressed in a long black robe, wearing wings made of black feathers, a black beak, and a mask of black feathers.

Squatting behind the trees, gradually emerging from the forest, watching my grandsons’ reactions of surprise, wonder, and tense joy, I wondered about the relationships of the exaggerated stories about pagans to people dressed in black robes, fires in the night, and small children. I thought about how much mystery, beauty, joy, and wonder humans have lost because of the intolerance of various religions for those who discover the sacred in the natural world, but especially the intolerance and marginalization of divergent perspectives by Christianity itself. (I also briefly considered the potential proliferation of effects that might occur, if news of this minor mythic ritual reached the ears of those who already question my support for the pagan students on my campus!)

I can only offer gratitude again for the innocence and wonder of my grandsons, the sense of mystery that they carry, a comportment toward the world that invites all of us to explore the interconnectedness of all things: people, stones, sky, trees, ravens, fire, the sacred. This Thanksgiving, I give thanks for them and for my daughter and my son-in-law who gave us the gift of their presence, their mystery for several beautiful days.

Labels: , ,