I remember myself as an insomniac nine-year-old, lying sleepless in bed after my parents had turned out the lights. In those self-centered, introspective days of childhood, I hardly believed in the reality of the present. How could anything really happen? I wondered. Reality didn’t seem real until it was past, when I could turn it over in my memory and find the meaning of it.
The parable of the sower has just failed at my house. Last winter I decided it was time to start a garden—not only because I thought it would give me pleasure but also because I hoped it might help me read the Bible. Since I moved to the country, I am more aware than ever what a rural preacher Jesus was.
"Blood is thicker than water." Though I didn't always know precisely what they meant by it, this is a saying I heard from relatives on my mother's side throughout my childhood. My great-grandmother Grammar tended to utter these words when she believed family members needed to close ranks against outsiders, or at least think and behave in a manner worthy of the family name.
During my first year of teaching, I learned the hazards of asking college seniors their postgraduation plans. I had mistakenly thought that a good way of getting to know the senior students in my spring seminar would be to ask them about their future. Instead of hearing about plans, I received anxious and concerned looks combined with tentatively spoken hopes and uncertainties.