Tales from the Mountain
Aunt Jewell was my Uncle Charlie’s wife. She was his second wife and had been Charlie’s sister-in-law though I never knew Jewel’s sister. Charlie and Jewell owned all the houses on our block except ours. Sometime back around 1915 or so, he moved the house from Leroux Street where it was the parsonage to the Methodist Church and where the living room served as the town’s public library. My grandpa Rawson bought the house and Jewell was his sister. Of course, we all went to the same church, First Baptist or, as the community called it, ‘123’, because that was the address on S Beaver St.
It’s not fair to say I was afraid of Aunt Jewell, she was a wonderful lady, but boy, she expected a certain level of respect and behavior from us including our language. One did not say “hey” (that’s food for animals) or “huh” (that was disrespectful). I learned to use lot’s of ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘may I’s’ as a young boy of 9. In the summer, Uncle Charlie would have me help him around the furniture warehouse that was behind our house (his side of the family owned “Harper’s Furniture” for many years in Flagstaff) but it was Jewell who always had a ‘little’ treat after the work was finished. The operative word was little. She made these little chocolate candies covered in powdered sugar that were wonderful…but tiny. I guess I was just greedy for more.
Change is hard. I was still in High School when Uncle Charlie died at 94. I remember walking over to the other end of our block on W. Cherry Street where their house was, tapping on the door and walking in as we always did; announcing ourselves on entry (we were family, after all). Aunt Jewell was just finishing up with Pastor Bob arranging the service. On the coffee table was both Charlie’s and Jewell’s Bibles (King James, of course). They revealed years of use; leather covers bent back and brown showing through the black-dyed leather, pages yellowed and dirty from the hands of hard-working people seeking God’s instruction over many years.
I was sad and so was Jewell. She told me change is always hard, but our hope, because of Jesus overshadows our sadness and helps us cope with change. “Never let go of Jesus,” she said, “because he will never let go you.” Then she gently took my hand in hers, “This,” she said, “is how close he always is to us.”
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
Also, Psalm 23 and 37 and Romans 5 – “…. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
When change is hard or I get discouraged, I remember Aunt Jewell words and her touch, and I remember the words to a hymn we used to often sing; “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”
I’m thankful for everything Aunt Jewell taught me even though it took a long time to appreciate it. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep hanging on to Jesus because I know he’ll never let go and I’m going to stand on that solid rock of Jesus Christ. I haven’t seen anything else firm enough to build my life on.
In the midst of change, and life is always changing, we have a solid rock to cling to and the good news? Well, the good news is that solid rock is Jesus who won’t let go because he loves you.
Hanging onto the rock, I pray for your peace and joy, Pastor John