Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)
TITLE: Green Bean Casserole
By Emily Gibson
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Bean snapping is one of those uniquely front porch American Gothic kind of activities. Old black and white Saturday matinee movies would somehow work in a bean snapping scene with an old maid aunt sitting on her ranch house porch. She'd be rocking back and forth in her rocking chair, her apron wrinkled and well-worn, her graying hair in a bun at the nape of her neck and wearily pushing back tendrils of hair from her face. As the sole guardian, she'd be encouraging some lonely orphaned niece or nephew about how to cope with life's rough roads and why their dog or pony had just died and then pausing for a moment holding a bean in her hand, she'd talk about how to cope when things are tough. She was the rock for this child's life. Then she'd rather gruffly shove a bowl of unsnapped beans in the child's lap, and tell them to get back to work--life goes on--start snapping. Then she'd look at that precious child out of the corner of her eye, betraying the love and compassion that dwells in her heart but was not in her nature to speak of. If only that grieving child understood they sat upon a rock of strength and hope.
So too our lives go on after tragedy. And we keep going because the rocks in our life—our family, our friends, our fellow believers—encourage and support us through the worst of times.
Just as I sat with my mother snapping beans some 40 years ago and talked about some difficult things that were unique to the 60's, I have snapped beans with my children. We talked about their hopes and disappointments and fears and I listened to them grumble that I was making them do something so utterly trivial when from their perspective, there are far more important things to be doing. My response is a loving and direct "keep snapping". We prepare for a coming winter by putting away the vegetables we have sowed and weeded and watered and cared for, because life will go on and eating the harvest of our own soil and toil is sweet. We must do this to share what we have with others, not only in the form of green bean casseroles at our monthly church potlucks.
I want my children to be more like the rubbery beans we encounter now and again that simply won't snap automatically under pressure. They resist the forces trying to break them. They can hold out much longer if they have a bit of resiliency, especially in the presence of others that bend and bow without snapping.
There is an old Shaker Hymn that I learned long ago and sing to myself when I need to be reminded where I must end up when I'm at the breaking point.
I will bow and be simple,
I will bow and be free,
I will bow and be humble,
Yea, bow like the willow tree.
I will bow, this is the token,
I will wear the easy yoke,
I will bow and will be broken,
Yea, I'll fall upon the Rock.
As people of faith we seek to wear the yoke we've been given to pull, bow in humility under its burden and know the freedom that comes with service to others. Even in the midst of the most horrific brokenness, we fall upon the Rock who bears us up with love and compassion that we are often not even aware of. He is there under us as our support and foundation though we've done nothing whatsoever to earn it.
Time for us to get back to work and start snapping--life goes on.
And there will always be another church potluck where we can share our bounty.
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