We believe that every human being is a beloved child of God.
We believe that each human being is on a journey toward God, with God.
We freely admit that we do not have all the answers.
We believe that Jesus points the way.
We encourage each other to become aware of the journey we are all on together.
Here are some of our stories…
(Our Friend Don Snow 5/30/1952 – 10/25/2007. He will be missed.)
My name is Don Snow, and I grew up in this church. I am one of two boys. My mother is Azalea Snow, a long time member of the wonderful Susannah Wesley Class. I admit that there have been 5 and 10year pockets of time when I have not made it to church. I would come in and one of the women in mom’s class would say,” You are Azalea’s boy aren’t you?” And I would say yes, and then they would ask, “ Are you the good one or the one that lives here?” I’ve convinced them that I am the good one that lives here.
I’m supposed to talk to you about my faith journey, its a funny thing though, my wife that I loved very much, died recently, so instead of talking about my faith journey I’m going to talk about some things that I have learned. If I had been asked to speak about anger, rage, despair, I could really do that with no problem. But I’m not here to talk about that.
There is an Alan Jackson song that came out around the time that Debbie got sick, it said, “ I took your bible from the dresser and I put it in the drawer because I can’t seem to talk to God without yelling anymore.” And I have to tell you that the first 6 months after Debbie died if you had gone out to my place you would have heard me screaming at God and howling at the moon fairly regularly.
I grew up in this church. The first time I ever danced with a girl it was in the youth lounge, which is now John McMullen’s office. I’m sure they had to do something to reconsecrate it. First time I ever kissed a girl was at the MYF campout at the Lakey Encampment out in the mountains. This church is very, very important to me and very, very special. So here are my signposts in life, or observations about faith.
You should always listen to dogs. I have the world’s largest Dalmatian, Lexie, and she loves me dearly. Hospice gives you hints to let you know when the end is near. And they are pretty good hints. You don’t really want to look at the list of hints, but you do. But the dog was a better hint than anything else I’d read. Three days before Debbie died, Lexie knew. She went in there, laid down by Debbie’s bed and she didn’t leave. So I would say to you as an article of faith, you ought to listen to dogs. Dogs are a lot smarter than we are, a whole lot smarter than I am.
The next thing I learned about faith that most people probably learn at about 20. And Susannah, my ex-wife, I apologize to you that I didn’t learn it earlier, and I have way to many stories to illustrate this point that I won’t go into here but (a) You should quit dating when you get married and (b) you should never, ever date married people. Someone asked me once if I had finally married the right woman and I said no, I think I have finally become the right man.
Another thing I have learned is that it is important to teach men from West Texas to hug. Debbie had this large extended family and none of the men hugged. So I spent the last 10 years teaching the men in her family to hug. Now her father runs away from me when he sees me, but I think he is actually coming around a little bit.
The next thing that I have learned is the importance of the intergenerational transfer of wisdom from one generation to the next. Many years ago when we started the Appalachia Service Project I thought, “That’s just peachy, lets go help poor people in Tennessee. God knows there aren’t 20,000 of them here close.” But I have learned that I was wrong. What came from the ASP is the intergenerational transfer of wisdom. On the first trip, saints of this church like Burt Jones taught Caroline Jones. Today Gordon Wesley is passing on his wisdom to all the kids we are sending this year. We send a team of kids from Austin to Appalachia to repair poor peoples homes and it is a good thing.
And it reminds me of a different story from my own life of intergenerational transfer of wisdom. Many years ago when I was 21 or 22years old I was at the old saloon in Westlake Hills and I was drunk. Really, really drunk. There was a man, probably 40 years old sitting next to me. I was drunk and pushy and I leaned on this man really, really hard. He finally looked over at me and he dropped his arm around me and he said, “Boy, let me tell you something, this ain’t high school and one of us is going to get hurt. So I suggest you just shut up, be quiet, and let me buy you a beer.” There are times in your life when God sends you a great moment of revelation and sobriety, and I got one right then. So I said, “Yes sir, thank you very much.”
I did not think about this again for 20 or 25 years. Then one night I am at a bar having a drink and the same thing happens, only this time I get to be the older gentleman imparting wisdom to the young man. So I repeat the same wise words that the man said to me all those years ago, and the drunk young man looks at me, smiles and breaks my nose.
My last story about this is from 13 years ago when my father was dying. I knew he was going to be gone soon, and I asked him what I could do for him. I always knew my father was smart, but I had no idea how devious because he said, “Take your mother to church.” I thought, 6 months of taking her to church? Sure, I can do that for my mother. Well, it has been 13 years and I’m still going. The old man was smart. So my conclusion from all these stories is that the transfer of intergenerational wisdom is best accomplished in a church instead of a bar.
It’s amazing the good things that started happening in my life once my father tricked me into going back to church. Maybe its coincidence but I don’t think so. One of the blessings being that I got to meet and marry this absolutely beautiful woman. And then Debbie got diagnosed with cancer and Debbie died. I never saw anybody deal with it with the strength and beauty that that woman did. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that Debbie was not scared of dying. Debbie was terrified of dying, but she had a certainty, a surety, that whatever happened to her after dying, it would be ok. It’s a level of faith and certainty that I don’t have. I might get it someday. It was certainly an amazing thing to watch. To tell you the truth I’d trade it all to have her back for a week, but it’s not my option. When she got sick it was amazing how people reacted. Some people treated her like a dead woman walking. Debbie told me, “Don, don’t be mad”, she said, “I never know what to say to people”, she said, “You big stupid man” (a term of endearment), “You go up and hug them and you may say the wrong thing, but you try and they know it”. The other thing that people would say that irritated the heck out of me is, ”Don’t worry, the Lord won’t send you anything you can’t handle.” I always felt the Lord was wildly optimistic as far as I was concerned. As it turns out I guess the Lord doesn’t send you anything you can’t handle. It was a gift to watch a woman that so loved life be able to die with such dignity and certainty that she was going to be in a better place. I think that by the time she died the only worry she had, was for me. Well founded. Which brings me to a couple of closing points.
At a time when I couldn’t talk to God in a rational, reasonable, even polite voice, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, God found a way to talk to me. God showed me the face of Christ in a whole lot of people. Many of them here at this church and it was a really good thing. It helped me survive and for that I am grateful. The night before she died, the Downtowners class, God bless them every one. They took care of me and they took care of Debbie. Raymond and Nancy Lewis came and spent the night with us cause I was pretty much worn out and pretty much gone. I told Nancy later, if Debbie could have spent her last night on earth with any other man it would have been Raymond because she dearly, dearly loved him.
So when you go home today, if there is someone in your life that you love, a parent, spouse, lover, or in my case a big old Dalmatian dog, you hug them and tell them how much they mean. Because today is a gift, the only promise about tomorrow is that we will be able to bare it. The day after Debbie died, like in the Alan Jackson song, her bible that had been given to her by her grandmother in 1961 – I put in the dresser and left it there for a long time. But a few months ago I took it out and I’m reading it again. And I will hold the words of this book and the woman that owned it in my heart as long as I draw breath.