Never trust anyone completely but God. Love people,
but put your full trust only in God.
(doorway in Nashville / Julie Cook / 2018)
As I’ve shared before, I was city born and bred, but moved west and met a country boy.
35 years ago in fact.
And so I am certainly old enough to remember things like meat and three and blue plate specials.
This is long before cutting-edge chefs found it chic to offer such on their menus.
Recently, on our little jaunt to Nashville, I overheard someone trying to explain the
concept of a meat and three to an out-of-towner.
They explained that a meat and three was just what it said.
A customer would have a choice of a meat, usually fried chicken, country steak or meatloaf
and then they had a choice to add three vegetables…choosing from a host of options…
vegetables such as fried okra (may I just say yum?!), collard greens, squash casserole,
green beans, mac-n-cheese…
At which time this fellow offering the explanation stopped to further explain that in the South,
mac-n-cheese (aka macaroni and cheese) actually passes as a vegetable.
At which point, some other woman overhearing the conversation hollered
“CAN I GET AN AMEN?!”
I suppose that’s one of those quirky little things about us Southerners
I’m also old enough to remember when Atlanta was closely surrounded by cows and chickens
as well as open pasture land.
In fact, not a mile from my elementary school folks still had horses idyllically grazing
in open fields…
However today, long gone are the horses and fields…
they’ve all been replaced by multimillion-dollar homes, multimillion-dollar subdivisions,
an Orthodox Jewish Temple, a state of the art Jewish school, an Episcopal Community
Center–and yet my circa 1958 elementary school keeps on keeping on.
Nowadays it’s few and far between that one can find a cow within 50 miles of the city…
not unless it is one of those grammatically challenged Chick-Fil-A cows…
but I digress.
Now my dad’s parents had a nice home in Atlanta on a nice quiet street.
My grandfather, who had graduated from GA Tech in 1919 with an Electrical Engineering degree,
started his own electrical business that consistently grew with the times.
Yet my grandmother had been a country girl….proper none the less, but country all the same.
Country as in open land, horses, farm to table food long before such was trending…
She had however graduated from what was LaGrange Women’s College down in LaGrange, Georgia
and did a bold thing for a woman in 1917…
She moved nothrward to the big city…striking out on her own.
And it was in the big city where she met my grandfather…riding on a trolly.
I’ve shared this story before but it’s simply just too funny not to offer it again.
There was my grandmother, dressed to the nines for a Victorian type young woman standing on the
cusp of those roaring 20’s, riding the trolly bound for work when my grandfather and his brother
jumped on the same trolly bound for who knows where.
My grandfather spied my grandmother sitting a few rows away and brazenly jumped up from his
seat making his way over to the empty seat beside her and plops down.
He boldly and most likely rather cheekily introduced himself.
An introduction complete with a large wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth.
My grandmother (a girl from the country who no doubt was accustomed to those chewing tobacco)
indignantly turned her head away from him remarking that she did not talk to boys who
Well, desperate times call for desperate measures…
and so he had no other option…he swallowed the tobacco wad in one hard gulp.
He then proceeded to correct her, explaining that he never had tobacco in his mouth and would
she then be interested in getting a Coca-Cola…
The rest of the story is history for my family tree.
Yet the love of country always remained in my grandmother and so at some point long before
I ever came along, they bought a farm with some land and horses north of the city.
A place they could go to escape the madness of city life on weekends and holidays…
and it was later the place where us city grandkids would run and play till our heart’s content.
I say all of this as I recall during one of the elections when Barak Obama was campaigning
that he made mention that people were now, more than ever before, living in cities.
I don’t remember if it was his first or second run.
But he made the point that it would be the urbanites who would become the determining
factors charting the course of election outcomes….in turn determining our red vs blue states.
Inwardly I took issue with this.
I felt that he was basically dismissing those Americans who were living across this
Nation in places other than metro cities. Those who lived, filling in the spaces between all
the major metropolitan cities.
And whereas I’ve not studied any recent census numbers or polls…I suppose there is some truth
to his words.
That our cities are filling up…and are… well, as those here in the South are often heard
to say…they are simply all full.
And so therefore, obviously on the flip side, that sadly means our suburbs and rural areas must be shrinking in population.
Yet here I am, in a rural west Georgia city…
a place where the cows, goats, horses, and sheep continue spilling over into the multi-million
dollar golf courses, homes, and subdivisions as the luxury equally continues spilling
over on while gobbling up the remaining farmland…
we reamin a hodgepodge of rural and urban all rolled into one…
And folks around these parts…just as with their city counterparts —
are equally diligent when it comes to concern for the Nation and voting …
As in we all have a voice…
And whereas our cities may be full and our rural areas perhaps less full…
the true matter in all of this urban, city vs rural, suburban is not really where we live,
or even to what level we live but what matters most is actually what exists within our hearts—-
what is it that fills these hearts of ours.
It’s not so much a matter of where we live but rather it’s a matter of how we opt to fill up
our hearts…or in some case…how we choose to empty them.
St John of the Cross reminds us of this very fact.
“God does not fit in an occupied heart.”
St. John of the Cross
And so as we continue to fix our sights on our political mayhem, our elections, our government
our contention, our divisions, our Supreme Court…our cities and our dwindling rural
forgotten towns, it would behoove all of us to recall St John’s words…
God cannot fit into a space that is already all full up.