My grandmother was the seventh child of seven children and her father was a farmer, scratching out a living in middle Georgia. She was a child during the years of the Depression and was a young wife and mother during World War II. She would often tell me stories of what it was like in those decades of depression and war. During the Depression, her parents struggled to feed such a large family. My great-grandmother had a victory garden. Victory, or war gardens as they were also called, provided vegetables, fruit and herbs to augment the rations coming from the federal government and reduce stress on the nation’s food supply. They were considered to be a morale booster so that people could feel a modicum of control and empowerment during the chaos of those decades. No matter how little food my great-grandmother had to put on the table to feed seven children, she would always put a covered plate of food on the back porch each evening. The reason for the covered plate on the back porch: many people were homeless in those Depression years and would wander up and down country roads looking for work. My great-grandmother put that plate on the back porch for any sojourner who needed something to eat. She was determined to care for her neighbors and strangers, regardless of how little food they had on their own table.
We have lived through tough times in this country before. We have lived through it, raised each other up, sacrificed for the common good and renewed our faith in the human race and even more importantly, in God. We can do it again. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president during many of those years, once said: “We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.”
The Apostle Paul writes to the Hebrew people (the book of Hebrews is believed to be an early Christian sermon, written to people who were living in their own chaos and persecution): “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (my words: perhaps my great-grandmother and grandmother and many others), let us also lay aside every weight and the sin (my words: of selfishness, perhaps) that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” And the race we run is almost never a sprint, but rather a marathon. It takes perseverance, patience, determination, a concern for other people, and an ability to dig deep into our souls and gain our strength and courage from God, our Creator. Paul continues by saying “lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.” (Chapter 12) Perhaps there is much healing needed in our communities, in our country, and around the globe. Perhaps this pandemic is making us aware of all that is in need of healing.
I read this last week, written by Kitty O’Meara:
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
Prayers and love for you all!
Reverend debbie osterhoudt
I am very excited to join in the ministry at Peace Presbyterian Church as interim pastor! I graduated from Vanderbilt University and received my Master of Divinity from Columbia Seminary in Decatur, GA. Before serving at Peace Presbyterian, I served in Triangle area churches as pastor, associate pastor and interim pastor for 33 years. I have a passion for my ministry and study, travel, walking, sailing (which I learned from my father) and gardening.