By The Reverend Mrs. Silence DoGood
My maternal grandfather was a butler. He was originally from Paris and Lyon, France but came to this country to start a family. In the latter part of his career he worked on a magnificent estate about 25 miles northeast of New York City. The century-old-manor house was constructed of stone and brick and rested on about thirty landscaped acres. The interior of its eighteen thousand square feet was replete with beautiful hand carved woodwork including staircases, built in window seats and bookcases. The staff included my grandfather, a cook, a maid, a chauffeur and a gardener.
When I was very young my mother would take my younger sister and me to visit my grandfather. We would visit him during the summer when the owners of the estate were in Europe. I have wonderful memories of those visits which due to their vividness seem to have taken place only yesterday.
One day my mother told me to walk down the service road to meet the milk truck on its way to the mansion as it made its daily delivery. There were no stone-entrance columns on the dirt service road that led to the mansion’s back door near the kitchen. There were however stone columns on the main entrance.
It wasn’t long before the milkman stopped to give me a ride; he had seen me before on the estate. As a little kid I clumsily climbed onto the white truck with the first step up being so big. The interior walls of the truck were lined with shelves of partitioned-metal baskets containing bottles with white paper caps. The large bottles were filled with milk while the half bottles were cream. Some bottles were empty with no caps. As the truck slowly drove on the bumpy dirt road toward the kitchen the music began. While some might call it a cacophony of sounds I thought it was a symphony. All of the glass bottles were thrust against the metal partitions producing the most amazing sounds. Hundreds of glass bottles on metal. Rattle, rattle, rattle all the way home.
One memory in particular has helped me shape the mission of my Church. It had rained in the morning. We stood on the grey-painted-wooden-back staircase looking at the many puddles on the dirt service road. The air was fresh and clean. My grandfather in his tuxedo was closest to the kitchen. My mother was behind me and I was on the lowest step close to the road. “Go ahead” my mother said. I turned. “I have no shoes.” “It’s alright.”
It was a moment of trust. Of faith. My mother gave me permission to walk barefoot on a puddly dirt road. I looked up at her smiling face which inspired me. As I let go of the bannister and placed my foot on the wet road I felt different. Century old mores came crashing down. I was an affronter. It felt good.
The mission of my Church is to help my congregation overcome the fear of living and the fear of dying. In a modest way I overcame the fear of living when as a child my mother encouraged me to take that first step on the wet dirt road. My mother’s permission set me free from the fear of getting my feet wet. I expanded the experience and richness of my life without hurting myself or others.
There are many steps in life that we can take that expands our living of it. Steps that don’t hurt us or hurt others. Steps that are perhaps modest in execution but rich in rewards. One of our dual tasks in life can be to identify those experiences which would allow us to enrich our lives and then with faith to embrace them.
The same permission to overcome the fear of living also pertains to the fear of loving. With permission and inspiration we can overcome the fear of loving by learning to take little steps toward other people. Together we can walk on new paths.
The Reverend Mrs. Silence DoGood
Choir Master (part-time)
The First Church of God’s Love
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