the other story…

Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite
distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow,
if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible
for each to see the other whole against the sky.

Rainer Maria Rilke

(historic marker for the Duelist’s Grave / The Colonial Cemetary,
Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook / 2018)

There’s a street I’ll usually cut through when I’m driving home from town.
It’s a street that my husband isn’t always keen that I take.
Not that he worries about my safety in doing so…it’s just that he thinks it
a bit seedy.
And lord knows should my car suddenly quit working…then where would I be?!

I suppose in seedyville.

And this is when my eyes roll at such a thought as I remind him I’d simply be in the same
town I’ve now called home for nearly 40 years…no worries.

It’s not necessarily a bad street in a bad part of town, but it does have its share of
what some might call a few folks who are ‘rough around the collar.’
A mixed sort of neighborhood to be sure.

But having taught school in our community for over 30 years,
I figure I know or have known all the kids from every side of town…
the upside, downside and in between side…so it really doesn’t bother me.
Many are now very much grown and I no longer recognize their faces but they know me…
so if I’m ever stranded in or around town, someone I once knew will most likely
know me now.

When I first started teaching, it was the “westside” of our town that was more or less
the more infamous part of town.
My kids (aka students) who lived in that part of town would ask if I’d ever been there…
and of course, I’d tell them yes as I had actually given ‘so and so’ a ride home.
They would in turn quickly chastize me, telling me not to go after dark.

It’s a shame that we have such sections of our towns and communities…
but the fact of the matter is that we do–as every city and town seems to have its fair
share of places one should be cautious about traveling through.

So on this particular cut through street of mine, sits an old house that looks a bit
piecemealed together…
as in it started out as a single story wooden framed home when at some point or other,
an upper story was oddly added with an open deck that makes me think “old Florida”…
as in the older type of houses built near the ocean back in the day, long before there were
multimillion dollar McMansions and highrise condos.
More bungalow than house.

The yard around the house is pretty rough looking, cluttered and littered with both weeds
and junk.
The upstairs deck is covered with what must be 50 birdhouses of various sizes, shapes
and descriptions.
Plus in bold black letters, on the front of this mishmashed house, are the words
“The other story”
Which is another throwback to those old beach bungalows when folks would name their cottages…

The other side of the story…
As in this fellow who lives here, and I say fellow because this place screams of a
curmudgeonie sort of person that calls this place “home”…maybe its the broken down lawnmower
and all it’s scattered parts…but no matter, it seems that this fellow has his own side to
some sort of story.

All of which has reminded me of something I recently read…
It reminded me of a different sort of ‘the other story’…or maybe it reminded
me of what is actually the real story…

I read that there are actually two Christmases…
Two different Christmases both rolled one into the other.

There is, of course, the Christmas of Black Fridays, Cyber Mondays, giving Tuesdays,
Santa at the mall, presents, mistletoe and all that speaks of secularism and consumerism.

And then on the flip side, there is the ‘other’ Christmas.

The Christmas of Christ’s Mass…the birth of the savior.

The latter, however, is deeply overshadowed by the former…and it seems that it is
overshadowed more and more each year with what seems to be a concerted effort to actually
drown it out forever.

But it is that other story, that other Christmas story that is actually the real
and only story.

Because it is the original story
The original Christmas.

The story being that of salvation.
The story of, a once long-ago time, when Hope was returned to earth…
in the form of a baby.

An amazing story really.

Not so much a story about mistletoe, or shopping til you drop, or of presents or
of cyber this or that but rather a story of unconditional love made manifest.

There’s always another side to every story…and I for one certainly prefer this other Christmas
story to that more modern version of this sacred story…

β€œIt does seem strange that so many persons become excited about Christmas
and so few stop to inquire into its meaning,
but I suppose this odd phenomenon is quite in harmony with our unfortunate human
habit of magnifying trivialities and ignoring matters of greatest import.”


Christ came to bring peace and we celebrate his coming by making peace impossible
for six weeks of each year…
He came to help the poor and we heap gifts upon those who do not need them.

A.W. Tozer

22 comments on “the other story…

  1. Citizen Tom says:

    Four rounds to complete a duel? Can you imagine standing there waiting for other guy to shoot?

    Seems like an odd picture to juxtapose with a Christmas, but a duel is a relationship gone wrong, horribly wrong.

    On that first Christmas, Jesus came to reconcile us with God. Unless we remember what He did, why it was needed, and why He did what He did, we may as well be standing there waiting for the Accuser to squeeze the trigger and send us to Hell.

    • I know—it’s like some sort of over time where the other side keeps getting an opportunity “to score” until one side doesn’t…and you’re right an odd image to add…but…it was the notion of the other story…or more aptly the other side of the story that I saw in the sign…there are two sides to a duel…or more acuarately, more sides to an offense, a wrong or an argument…which is why the duel takes place in the first place…one party is slighted or wronged and wants the opportunity of defending ones honor, pride, etc…
      Two sides to a no win situation really as I wonder how a duel’s victor is left feeling for the remainder of his life…yes he lived but at what cost?
      And so as I was talking about the other story…the notion of the duel seemed appropriate…
      and I suppose we could even agruge that culture has called for a duel with the Spiritual…as it somehow seems slighted and wants its chance of eliminating the Spritiual…
      a fight to the finish really…oh I could go on and perhaps create a new post : )

  2. Wally Fry says:

    Indeed, Julie, we have lost sight of just what happened on that day those centuries ago. Honestly, I was not a huge Christmas fan when I did not believe. Even then, I knew something was wrong with our perspective on it. Now that I understand just what actually happened, I am far less a fan of Christmas as a Holiday. I keep my mouth shut, but if it was up to me we would not participate in secular celebrations of it. I suppose technically it is up to me, but as I said in an earlier post, we can’t die on every hill.

    • well, the tree notion is still up in the air but the Christmas cards are out. The first year in 35 years of marraige that I’ve not bought, addressed, stamped and mailed the suckers.
      My little protest.
      And I always did a religious card….none of this business of a picture of the family at the beach or wherever bragging to others what was accomplished or visited during the year.
      I have a cousin who sents out a two page picture montage with a lengthy brag sheet of who, what, where and when that makes me want to throw up…I mean where is the ” Christmas” in that?????
      Where is Jesus when you’re telling me about a hot air balloon ride over the Serengede?????
      Now the lights on the other hand…well folks use to go into my husband’s store telling him how much they enjoyed driving by out place at night and seeing them…and I keep it very simple … wreathes on windows and small white lights off the front deck railing and around the arch of the door…so I say it’s my little gift to the neighbors πŸ™‚
      But like I say…the tree is sitting on the fence.
      With this being Gregory’s first non retail Christmas in his 69 years of life as his family ran the store before he did…he did mention it’ll actually be his first year to “help”…but it was that way with the lights…I’ve been putting them up now for 35 years by myself…why do I finally want help when I have such an established system?! πŸ™‚

      • Wally Fry says:

        I am very happy for Gregory. Having spent 15 years of my own life in the retail business, I can’t say I miss it that much, although the thrill and challenge of pulling it off was often quite gratifying. I bet Gregory would attest to that.

      • In hindsight, yesβ€” in the nitty gritty of it all, not so muchβ€” ahh the duality of it all 😱

  3. says:

    This is so spot on. I love Christmas when we focus on the reason for it, My church is planning a Advent by Candle Light tea, this coming Sunday. I will be reading along with others, including my granddaughter, which lifts my heart immensely. My home decorating has diminished over the years, partially because everything has been stuffed away in the attic of the garage. I still have plain white lights outside – wreaths on the windows – my wooden Santa, but the Nativity set is the main focus on my dining room table. Christmas from the other POV makes me sad. Primarily because the true gift of the season is buried in the countless dollars spent trying to make yourself look good in someone else’s eyes. Usually we don’t have much money, but it becomes more apparent at this time of year and that often leads to sadness. We need to return to the manger and receive the greatest gift ever.

    • oh I do love that idea of an Advent tea….and I’m not so certain what all I’ll get out this year as the kids won’t be coming here…we’ll be going there as Brenton will only have Christmas day off.

      • says:

        It’s probably easier for you to go there. My youngest daughter and son get together with us for Christmas Eve church. And festivities at her house. Our S. Carolina family is planning to visit our oldest grandson in S. Korea right after Christmas. We’re spread all over this year.

  4. Tricia says:

    “The other story…” I love this Julie as it’s a simple statement of the true and glorious meaning of Christmas and a good reminder for us to keep our our fixed on that as opposed to all of the silly busyness that clouds our vision.

  5. roninjax says:

    Excellent story and message. πŸ™‚

  6. oneta hayes says:

    Merchandising has taken over the Thanksgiving and Christmas! I don’t like it. It breaks up family fun. Even football gets the boot when it comes to hitting the shops at night! I do like you real Christmas story. And some people get a lot of good movies at this time of year. I’m not a movie watcher, however. Not to early to say “Merry Christmas” is it? Okay. Merry Christmas. πŸ˜€

    • Merry Christmas Oneat—you are the first person I’ve said that to this season…which is perfect as we offically, in the curch that is, begin the season of Advent on Sunday…
      now if we were saying it July, I might worry about us πŸ™‚
      A joyful season to you and Sammy!!!!
      I’m rebelling this year and not sending out cards for the first time ever…but don’t tell Wally, I caved in and put the tree up yesterday πŸ™‚

      • oneta hayes says:

        I’m doing cards but no tree. Actually ReNee, my daughter-in-law, is going to put a tree in my box window. It will not be large but it’s a tree. Now that she is in my family, we will be going back to more traditional things. She did all the work for Thanksgiving. She doesn’t shortcut anything! My son found a jewel who thinks he is a jewel. Can’t beat that. You will have a ball with the Mayor. She probably will not act very “mayorial” as she dives into the wrappings.

      • This will be the Mayor’s first Christmas as well as her first and last Christmas as an only child…she won’t remember what it was like to be a single recipient of everyone’s lavishing —that might be a good thing πŸ˜‰

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