Saturday, January 24, 2015

Guest Blogger: Stanley MacNair

My grandfather was a minister with the American Baptist denomination from 1939 until his death in 1996. One of his practices in his various pastorates was to write a column for the church's bulletin, which he titled "Monday Morning Minister's Musings". After his death my uncle, Mark Leibenow, put together a compilation of the "4 M's", giving one per calendar day, and distributed copies to the family.

Except for a few. This particular one wasn't in the book; Uncle Mark typed it out and gave it to me. It didn't have a title, he just named it "Sean" because, well, it mentioned me. It wasn't about me, it was more about the unity of the family and the unity of God's family, the oneness amidst many unique parts.

And away we go.

In the eight generations that Sean's ancestors (that's what he calls us all!) have lived in this country he can lay claim to 256 grand-parents. Blood lines and genes of 250 people are a part of his makeup. His features are half MacNair, half Finch, but along what pathway came each of those attributes? Why is heinterested in spelling and his brother all wrapped up in dinosaurs? Rhinos I could understand, but why the allosaurus? Something of all that mob of progenitors continues in my grandchildren, and I have no way of knowing who contributed what. But I do know my grandson. He is Sean Lawrence and there is not another like him anywhere. He has, as do you and l, a sense of self as utterly differentiated from any other self.

I, the mob, but I the person. I, eating the bread of communion last week in concert with all of you because we are a part of all whom we have met, of all who contributed to our selves. I, taking the cup alone last week because it is in my solitariness that I meet my Maker, who is my Judge and my Lover. To be the one I know myself to be is to exist as an integer, a whole number, a one. Regardless of what lines meet and cross in me from the ancestors, they do cross in me and I stand by myself.

But I can never escape, nor do I want to, the sense of the presence of all the others, and the workings of the processes of living. I am accompanied along my road by those I never knew and those I did. From my mother who is dead, and from my father who still lives, I am never wholly apart. Absent, they are present. And not these alone. Though I walk through the valley of the dark shadow, fear does not conquer me, because Another walks by my side. There is, as the two mountaineers said after a harrowing climb, a third man on the rope.

A. Stanley MacNair
 est. late 1970s