Longevity, stability, heritage. Each of these words come to mind whenever I think of the opening weekend of deer season at the farm. Over the years it has become a time-honored tradition for all of the Hood family to make the pilgrimage back to their roots at the farm for a time of fellowship, laughter, and deer hunting. The anticipation of cool evenings spent telling stories around the campfire is rivaled by only two other happenings – getting that big buck and eating breakfast at Jerry’s restaurant in Onalaska, Texas.
Jerry’s is a family-owned business that serves, among other foods, a good country breakfast. It is a popular spot with many hunters in East Texas, but it has become more than just a spot for our family…it is a memory. Each year Dad met us out at the farm on opening morning about the time the guys came in from the morning hunt. He would get the campfire started and visit until we heard the familiar sound of four wheelers coming up the hill carrying hungry hunters, and sometimes a deer or two. Once the deer were skinned and on ice, the guys cleaned up and prepared for the next highlight of the weekend, breakfast at Jerry’s.
No matter how many tables have to be joined, no matter how chaotic our ordering process becomes, and no matter how many excited children are running around pumped up on coffee, cream, and sugar, the waitresses always treat us with kindness and patience. The food is always served up hot and fresh, and the coffee cups stay full. The experience, however, goes far beyond the performance of waitstaff and the flavor of the food.
The experience is in the memories of togetherness and laughter from days gone by. It is in the feeling the heart remembers when seeing the chair in a spot occupied just a couple of years ago by a spirit that lives long past the physical body where it once was housed. It is in the memory of a conversation, a joke, a smile. It is the sheer continuity of family, of meeting once again as a cohesive unit joined not only by blood, but by love. It is the strength that comes from the past, and the hope that shines for the future.
“Dear Lord, thank You for traditions that bring us together year after year to renew and build upon family relationships that mean so much. Thank You for my family and for the joy they bring to my life. God, please protect this and so many other families who understand this precious and valuable relationship. Please also be with those who have been divided for one reason or another. Shower them with Your love and peace, and if possible, let them find one another once again. Be with those who are in situations where it is best to go their separate ways. Fill their lives with the peace that only You can bring. Help us all to trust You for our family’s future, and may we never allow anything to destroy the love and respect we share. In Jesus precious name I pray, Amen.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Way of Love
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.