Mar 18 2012

Learning From My Elders

“Blessed is the person who finds wisdom, the person who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.”  Proverbs 3:13-14

It has been a bittersweet weekend for me.  I have had to preach the funerals of two very special persons.  One funeral was here where I live yesterday; the other was Friday night at a church in Tennessee where I served a number of years ago.  There were a lot of similarities between the two ladies who died.  Both were close to ninety years of age.  Both had been widows for several years.  Both loved their church and were known for their desire to share their faith with others.  There was, however, another common trait that I want to focus on today.  Both loved nature and recognized it to be God’s handiwork and also a means of His revelation.

The woman from here that died I’ve actually written about before on this blog site.  Back in May of 2010 I posted an entry called “Charlotte’s Praise” and talked about Charlotte Mann’s love for God’s creatures and the beauty of this world.  Until just a few days ago Charlotte continued to feed at least 70 ducks every day at her home.  She loved her “babies” and found great delight in them.  She had a groundhog family that lived in her backyard too.  “Homer” was the head of this groundhog family and Charlotte worried about him if she didn’t see him around.  Earlier in her life Charlotte had the opportunity to travel some in North America and the natural beauty she talked often about those places being a source of inspiration to her.  For Charlotte every day was a gift from God and she gave thanks for the little things that a lot of us take for granted.  She was someone who truly loved both the Lord and His Creation.

The other woman, Vauda Faulkner, likewise loved God immensely and felt His presence keenly in nature.  As I prepared to do Vauda’s funeral her son, David, shared with me some wonderful stories.  He told me that his mother always saw the world through the eyes of a child.  David said, “She would just stop whatever she was doing, awestruck with the beauty of falling snow, sunrise and sets, and the moving of storms.”  Vauda felt that God had given everything in His Creation a “voice” and encouraged her children and grandchildren “to listen to the falling snow, gurgling brooks, bird song, the wind in the forest.”

Early on in my life I was taught the importance of learning from my elders.  Even though I’m at the age now where I am a lot of people’s “elder” myself, I continue to learn from those who are ahead of me in years.  I learned a lot from both Charlotte and Vauda and thought I’d pass on to you today some of their wisdom.  At a time when many people fail to make the connection between God and nature I’m glad I can share with you some wisdom from two very special ladies who did make that connection.  I am going to miss both of them.


(The top picture was taken near Jellico, Tennesse, where Vauda lived.  The bottom picture was taken near Pikeville, Kentucky, where Charlotte lived.)

May 30 2010

Charlotte’s Praise

baby-eastern-cottontail“How many are your works, O Lord!  In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”  Psalm 104:24

 According to Philip Yancey, Flannery O’Connor once wrote an article about her peacocks and the reactions they would get as they unfurled their feathers.  One truck driver yelled, “Get a load of that!” and braked to a halt.  Most people would simply fall silent.  O’Connor’s favorite response came from an old black woman who simply cried, “Amen! Amen!”

I can certainly relate to this story.  This past Friday I took a DVD containing some of my “slide shows” over to one of my home bound members.  Charlotte is in her late eighties and under hospice care.  She is an elder at our church and considered a “saint” by just about everyone.  As we sat together in her bedroom and watched the programs on her television Charlotte kept raising her hands into the air and saying, “Hallelujah” and “Thank you, Lord.”  She had the sweetest expression on her face.

Chipmunk-2I had a feeling Charlotte would enjoy the programs.  She loves God’s Creation and especially all the creatures He has made.  Every day she feeds over seventy ducks.  She calls them her “babies” and has given many of them names.  With great pride she told me Friday she now has eighteen baby ducks coming up to her back porch.  She is also delighted that a groundhog (named “Homer”) is also coming up to finish up all the leftovers.  When she talks about animals her sentences are almost always prefaced by the words, “Ain’t it miraculous…”

Charlotte Mann has no trouble seeing God in His Creation.  For her all that God has made bears witness to His love and power.  My heart was sincerely touched as I watched Charlotte offer God praise as she watched my slide shows.  I’m not sure which one of us got the greater blessing.  I just wish more people were like Charlotte—not afraid to offer God worship and praise for the work of His hands.  He truly is worthy of all the praise we can give Him!  Just ask Charlotte…


(Pictured above are two of God’s wonderful creatures I’ve been privileged to photograph–a baby eastern cottontail and a western chipmunk.)