One book that clergy read and discuss as part of seminary is Friedman’s “Generation to Generation.” This generation-to-generation blog is critically different from the textbook.
On Saturday I attended the 36th annual Laurel Festival parade party hosted by a couple I have come to know and like since moving to north central Pennsylvania. They invite many to bring chairs for sitting, nibbles to pass and a dish to share while we watch the local parade pass. I think more than 100 people, of all ages and stages of life gathered to watch.
It is more than that the parade passes by; it is that this group applauds each band, group and float that is part of the parade. The area “queens” (Miss Dairy Miss Laurel Festival and numerous others) waved and received waves by those in this “reviewing” stand. The bands make an effort to stop at this area and when the bands stop, they play extra well (at least so it seemed to this listener although others in town felt that same way). After the parade, there is eating, more visiting and music by “Spare Parts.” It was a wonderful day though when I walked from my home to the party (more than a mile each way) I could only think of the heat and humidity that measured about the same – 90 or so.
The party, the tradition, the camaraderie were nice and I made sure to get there on time. Last year I was late, not understanding the timing which is: come about 10AM and drop off the dish to share stored in my own cooler if refrigeration is necessary and drop off my chair at the same time. Suggestions were offered regarding parking my car for later. I got into my parking space early enough to avoid paying the $5 for parking. From 10:10AM, I was on foot the remainder of the day and I then did what so many others did: walked back to town and visited local street vendors. After visiting, I hiked home, got a cool drink of water and changed my hot clothes for cooler. Then, before 2PM and starting to drag from walking in the sun, I returned to the party, visited with those I knew, met a few people I did not know, enjoyed the parade and food, then went home to finish preparing for Sunday worship.
The generation-to-generation part of this blog falls under “plans for next year and the year after.” In May I was asked to join a group going on a cruise – this group lives south of here, in another county and none of them come to the Laurel Festival parade so they don’t know about generational parades. I asked a local friend – party attender - if she was interested in going the cruise and sharing a room – she declined because the cruise interferes with next year’s party. Each year, she, her daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren and now great grandchildren converge for this party. Not only that, the family of the host/hostess come with their children from out of state, as do other families. These are people who started attending this party 36 years ago and now come each year. It is a reunion of sorts.
These friends, scattered fron the Carolinas and DC and the northeast are extended family. There for each other, sharing memories, introducing future generations to future generations and instituting the cultural fabric of the future.
I like to think they gather the next day, Sunday, to attend church but that is (perhaps) my fantasy of what rural culture is all about and is a holdover from the times in our society when church was the center of activity. Actually, I do hope that the parade is only part of the activity and that church is important as well. Getting to know God in a cultural setting was what many of these people did as youngsters. I know that God is looking different these days, and that God is less important in the lives of some. I hope, though, that these folk - who used to attend a church - would think that God is as important in their lives as a parade – that the small town, rural life mores are based upon a religious foundation rather than an entertainment basis. Our future generations deserve the chance to accept or reject God, but won’t do so without being exposed to God. A complex God, for sure, but one who should be known.