Georgia Fern Crager
Our pastor has preached recently on the message of radical hospitality. She gives a long explanation of what she means by this concept. She talks about Jesus' love being all-inclusive and how we need to see the stranger on the street as our brother; that we need to welcome the most foreign of humans as family. When I heard this sermon I knew immediately what she was talking about. Radical hospitality means I should treat people the way I've always been treated in Clearfield.
I have known Louie for 22 years come this March and for 21 of those years I received a birthday card from Georgia (and Jane too). I'm sure I would have gotten a card the first year I knew Louie, but I had not met Georgia by that birthday.
The birthday card tradition is not going to seem unusual to this audience. Many of you have seen thecalendar Georgia kept with everyone's birthdays marked. Many of you get a card every year too.
But let me put this in perspective by looking first at Georgia's relationship with Louie. Louie and Georgia are first cousins. I have first cousins on both my father's and mother's sides of the family. Several of these cousins I haven't seen in five years and I don't know when I will see again. I am close to a couple of my cousins, but none know my birthday nor have any sent me a birthday card, much less Louie.
So from my perspective Louie and Georgia's closeness is unusual. This closeness is even more unusual because Georgia was 16 years older than Louie. There are many siblings, when separated by that many years, who hardly know each other, much less cousins. Then there is the issue of Louie's coming to live in the Crager household at 111 Partin St.
As y'all know this is a small house. As one of four children I know I was jealous for my parents time and attention. I can imagine being resentful and angry to have a cousin added to our clamoring throng.
That was never the way at 111 Partin St., however. Louie found a home there, just as I have found a home there. Georgia was good to Louie, just as she was good to everyone. She helped him buy a car when he needed one, brought him groceries when he was living in a college group-house and the refrigerator was empty, took him on vacations.
When I came into Louie's life, I benefited from the same, selfless outpouring of love. I say selfless because Georgia was the original "don't let the right hand know what the left hand is doing" kind of Christian. You knew about Georgia's love because she remembered. The birthday cards are just one sign that Georgia paid very close attention. There were others.
I love Clearfield and Lord knows I love biscuits, but I can't stand gravy. That didn't stop Ethel from insisting I take a big serving at every breakfast. It was Georgia who inevitably would chime in"Mom, you know John doesn't like gravy."
She paid attention to me, what I liked and didn't like, then held on to that knowledge. Georgia held onto that level of detail for everyone in her life. I know how privileged that attention made me feel and I'm not even blood kin. I can only imagine how blessed all of you feel who were born into that love.
January 18, 2006