Tag Archives: Leroy Guinn

Unexpected moments of Light

It’s time for “Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting” when Jackson’s Journal undertakes a memoir-in-progress of my life’s spiritual journey.

Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting

I’ve been asked to speak and sing “The Lord’s Prayer” at a memorial service for one of Kelly’s cousins, Delena Sholler, on April 21 in the fellowship hall at First Baptist Church in Belle. The location alone sends an unexpected wave of emotion through me, something I’ll explain at a later time, under different circumstances. Delena was living in Texas; I barely knew her. But my “adopted” in-law family called on me, as they often have, to memorialize and celebrate her life.

Delena’s parents are John and Nina Tynes of Union. Kelly, Kishia and our new granddaughter Kianna were planning to visit Uncle Johnny and Aunt Nina today. They are Kianna’s Great-Great-Great Uncle and Aunt. And they are two of my favorite people. Uncle Johnny “gave Kelly away” at our wedding; I recently found a gospel song that Nina wrote and I arranged several years ago.

Remembering that shared history has given me a smile and also brought to mind Nina telling the most spine-tingling ghost stories I’ve ever heard. When I mentioned that to Kelly the other day, she held out her hand to stop me. “Nope, nope,” Kelly said, waving me off and shaking her head. I imagined that just the thought of Nina’s gift of vivid narration sent goosebumps pulsing up Kelly’s arms.

Nina and her sister, Neva, have seen their other three siblings enter eternity: Leroy Guinn, perhaps the most influential man during my early teen years; Nora Wallace, whom I was with when she breathed her last; and dear, sweet Grandma – Nola McDaniel – whom a dozen of us surrounded and serenaded into Heaven with quiet, sacred hymns just three and a half months ago.

Unexpected moments of Light. That’s what I’ve experience time and again with Kelly’s side of the family probably more than my own. The last words I’d use to describe that clan – especially the distant, great-great kinfolk – are pretentious and artificial. These folks are as real as they come. A loose cannon like me fits snugly into the fold.

I’m going to follow this theme of unexpected moments of Light for a few weeks. Last week there was no “Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting” at Jackson’s Journal, the first time we’ve missed in three months. I’ve shed the legalistic view that “going to church,” even in the virtual world of The Journal, is mandatory for keeping a place at the grown-up table in Heaven. What isn’t acceptable, though, is just going through the motions when it comes to worship and examining my heart, but I’m a pretty good motion-goer-througher. I think I’ve mentioned before I learned from the best.

But you know one of the incredibly cool things about God? It’s as if He decides, “I’m gonna rock your going through the motions routine – when you least expect it.”

That’s called Grace.

So here I was, searching for guitar chords for “The Lord’s Prayer,” and thinking that I’d find something on YouTube, say “here’s what I’ve got for us for Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting,” and then we’d have a quick prayer and walk one block down the street (in Belle, Mo.) to Cecil’s for a frozen dairy treat.

What I found was The Martins singing their own version of The Lord’s Prayer. I clicked. I simply wanted to listen, grab the link, slap it on this page, say “Amen” and get on with setting my lineups for the too-many fantasy baseball teams that I’ve drafted. But wow, what a version. I love, love, love The Martins.

Instead, I went next to In the Presence of Jehovah, another Martins song.

An unexpected moment of Light. If this doesn’t launch you into full-fledged worship mode, then you haven’t got a pulse. This past Sunday Natasha texted me to say, “Visiting a church and a lady is singing ‘In the Presence of Jehovah’ for special music. Thinking of you.”

God was rocking the complacency that I’d allowed to creep in to my heart.

Finally, in observance of Lent and in preparation for Palm Sunday (Kianna is being dedicated) and then Resurrection Day (we also call it Easter) I offer what might be an overwhelming experience. An a cappella rendition of O Sacred Head (one of the more challenging bass lines there is), set to video from The Passion of the Christ.

Granted, this is a long blog entry. (Broke my own rule). And it will take 12 minutes or longer to hear all the songs – and the scenes in the video are unbearably graphic. The thoughts and emotions from this post’s music weren’t what you expected when you started reading.

But I’ll bet you, too, experienced unexpected moments of Light. You’ll let me know, right? 

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Filed under Family, Inspiration, Kianna Allene Brown, MIP: Memoir-in-progress, Old Time Religion

Rock Island Rail snow tunnels: March 1975

This is a two-part story about the house where I lived in March 1975 and the perfect snow that cancelled school the entire first week of that month 37 years ago. Look for the conclusion on Tuesday.


From my Black Book of Great Adventures

March 5, 1975 — Four days ago I went fishing. Today is the fourth straight day of snow; about 18 inches on the ground, but not real cold. Our dog Mo-Mo is pregnent. Build more tunnels beside the tracks. Fritz got killed by the train, Leroy buried him. I said the prayer and thanked God for little dogs …

My list of Top 10 Weather Events of My Life, honorable mention, includes the heavy, wet snow that fell during the entire first week of March, except the 1st. The depth of the snow was memorable; but barely freezing air temperature created the most perfect snowman-building, tunnel-making snow of my life. My friends, Stacy and Lacy, lived just across the street, and the Rock Island Railroad ran within an easy snowball’s throw behind their house, chugging through Belle, Mo., on its route from Eldon to Union.

The rail was our ready-made path to adventure: animal bones (some complete skeletons of opossums, raccoons and similar critters, and skulls and other bones from deer and coyotes) that encountered the Rock Island train); the old vacation village of Gascondy and the Gascondy Railroad Trestle seven miles to the west, just south of Summerfield; and the much-closer Belle City Park Lake where we caught more than our share of bluegill, sunfish and bass for the better part of four years.

It seems like my family lived there so much longer, because when my mind goes back to the very best years of my childhood, I usually go back to the green duplex at the corner of Eighth and Swanson. The distance from my south-facing bedroom window to the railroad tracks was 25 paces. (Measured in 11-year-old boy paces).

That house was where I slept and ate and performed all imaginable – and unimaginable — chemistry experiments in my bedroom “laboratory.” If chemistry set Bottle A specifically warned, “Do not mix this chemical with Bottle B,” well, guess what? I’m pretty sure I passed out once or twice.

My “lab” shared space with two or more aquariums/terrariums that provided habitat for the snakes, field mice, crawdads, tadpoles, lizards, salamanders … well, everything I could catch. “My side” of the duplex is where my mom told me after school one day, “You know your father and I are getting a divorce.”

Some locations, some events — some exact moments — you never forget.

Just like I’ll never forget the joy and tragedy of the first week of March 1975.

Continued tomorrow …

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Filed under MIP: Memoir-in-progress