All the News from Walnut Shade, KS
July 14, 2011
The 4th of July weekend was a busy one in town, not just for the parade, fireworks display, chicken barbecue and car show, but because many family members and friends from out of town came to visit. I didn’t have a chance to report on the comings and goings last week, so here’s a partial list of the reunions around Walnut Shade over the 4th:
Rachel and Gretchen Watkins surprised their parents, Betty and Harold, who didn’t know that Rachel was coming home from Paris, where she is studying architecture, nor that Gretchen would be taking some time from wrapping up her studies at Rutgers to visit. It was the first time in over a year that the girls had seen each other.
George Wilson spent the day with Bruce and Barbara and Barbara’s brother and sister-in-law, who were visiting from St. Joseph.
Eddie and Glenda Singleton hosted a get together with Charles and Jennifer Singleton from Manhattan. Hannah, Lauren and Emily, had a great time with their cousins Rachel and Jessica. Lauren and Jessica came in second in the three-legged race.
Jody Tyler’s mother and father spent the weekend with her and Ron. Jacob enjoyed the car show with his grandfather. Mr. And Mrs. Phillips live in Minneapolis.
Inez Harris’ nephew, Harry and his wife Pamela, visited on Saturday from Marysville.
Michelle Clemons said that Holly House was full for the weekend, with visitors from Kansas City, Little Rock, Davenport, and Perth, Australia. Her Australian guests were documentary film makers visiting sites on the Oregon Trail for a film for Australian TV.
Arlene and Don Cornett hosted Don’s brother and sister-in-law from Colorado. Don’s brother, Jeff, manages a ski resort near Steamboat Springs and Jan owns an art gallery in Steamboat.
Marie and Marshall Green hosted the other county commissioners and their wives at a picnic in Harris Park. They enjoyed the VFW’s chicken barbecue and cheered the participants in the children’s games.
Glenn and Lucille and Tom and Sheila Miller had lunch on Saturday and then watched the fireworks on the 4th from Tom and Sheila’s back deck.
Matthew and Andrew Oswald, Frank and Sally’s sons, invited the Singleton cousins over for ice cream Sunday afternoon. They all played badminton and several games on Wii.
Jerry and Susan Hall and their son David went to St. Joseph on Saturday to spend the day with Jerry’s parents. David’s cousins Jacob and Matt returned with them on Sunday. Jacob and Matt will be spending a couple of weeks with David.
Ruth Stanford’s son Michael and daughter-in-law Sheila went to church with her on Sunday and then took her to Fremont for lunch. In the afternoon, they visited with Ruth’s friend, Marjorie Frank. Michael and Sheila returned to Kansas City in the evening.
On Sunday, Lori Mendenhall had a visit from her sister and brother-in-law, the Marks from McDougal.
Things are back to normal in Walnut Shade and this week has been pretty quiet, so…
Until next week, I remain
Your Faithful Correspondent
After the excitement of the holiday weekend, I think most of us were looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet. There’s nothing more peaceful than biscuits and gravy or scrambled eggs at Shirley’s. Most Monday mornings, I have breakfast there with the Walnut Shade “Ministerial Alliance.” Now I am certainly not a minister and not, on the whole, religious (though I do consider George Harrison’s guitar solo on “And Your Bird Can Sing” as something close to angelic), but when I retired, Father Rick, Rev. Derby and Pastor Paul invited me to join their weekly get together, which they use to decompress from their weekend duties. One would think that they would sleep in Monday mornings after non-stop shepherding of their flocks from Wednesday night choir practice (Rev. Derby) to Saturday night mass (Father Rick) to Sunday morning worship (all of them) to Sunday night prayer service (Pastor Paul). But apparently, the Monday morning breakfast meeting is critical to their spiritual renewal each week. I take full credit for that. Well, maybe not, but I do occasionally take the opportunity to pose some theological question that seems to recharge their batteries.
Recently, I asked if they believed that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. Father Rick said the real question is whether there is intelligent life here on Earth. Big laugh all around. Given that there are a billion suns in our galaxy and a billion galaxies in the universe, I said that it seemed the odds would favor at least a few of those suns having planets that could support life. Pastor Paul said that since there was no mention in the Bible of life anywhere but here, he tended to think that we are the only ones. “God would have let us know by now if there are other humans out there someplace,” he ventured.
“But would life have to be in human form?” Father Rick asked. “Maybe it’s like those rocks on Star Trek that moved around and nearly ate Captain Kirk.”
“Well, it stands to reason that God wouldn’t have created just one place in a universe as big as ours that could support life. Why go to all the trouble to create a billion billion suns and only one Earth? I think there must be life out there that is at least as advances as we are; probably more so.” Rev. Derby suggested.
“Wouldn’t take much,” laughed Father Rick.
“Well, I ask the question because I’ve been wondering: if there is advanced life out there somewhere, did they also have some sort of original sin? And did Jesus spend his time going from planet to planet being crucified to save them from that sin?” I dropped this query into the conversation to see where they would go with it.
At the next table, a couple of Shirley’s regulars, seeing the puzzled looks on the ministers’ faces, started chuckling.
“In three weeks, I give my final homily at St. Brendan’s and chances are, I’m not going to raise that question. But I will think about it and have an answer for you on the Monday after I officially retire,” Father Rick said, smiling at the prospect of giving up his duties but not his engagement with his faith.
“Well, I’m obviously not retiring, but I’m going to have to think about that one, too.” Rev. Katherine Derby, the minister at St. Stephen’s UCC was far from retirement, being in her middle thirties, but she too was one who thought long and deeply about the meaning of her faith and her relationship with a higher power, if there was one.
Pastor Paul was still mulling the question when, Billy Thornton, one of the regulars at the next table leaned over and said, “How do you know there are a billion stars? Maybe the sky’s just a painting, like they did for all those fake moon landings.”
At that point, the theological portion of the program ended and it was on to government conspiracies, a discussion that anyone could participate in fact free.
After a stimulating hour of hearing a recap of the latest “news” from Fox 5, the cable channel out of St. Joseph, I decided to say my goodbyes to Billy and Ralph and Pastor Paul (Father Rick and Rev. Derby having taken their leave when the talk turned once again to the provenance of President Obama) and walked home with the intention of finally starting “Moby Dick,” which I had been putting off for a month. On the way, I popped into the Post Office to pick up the mail and found a letter waiting for me from the IRS, saying that they had discovered an error on our 2010 tax return and that we were due an additional refund of $22. Judy will be thrilled; we can finally take that Mediterranean cruise we’ve been talking about! Or have boiled shrimp dinners at Shirley’s on Friday night.