Monday, October 4, 2010

From A Pilgrim for Stories










My dear father has a way with words, a way with people and a love for both  my children and for the church in which they are growing up, so I asked him to offer his thoughts on Molly's dedication.  I have anticipated his perspective, and am so grateful for his head and heart  as he shares his thoughts on our story.

(Family Photos taken by our dear friend Meg)
IMG_9044.jpg picture by batesking04
By Douglas T. Bates, III
On the last Sunday my wife and I travelled to Fredericksburg to witness the dedication of our dear little granddaughter Molly into the household of faith known as the Fredericksburg Baptist Church.IMG_9044.jpg picture by batesking04




Any time we get to spend with our daughter Sarah, her husband and my great pal, BJ, our precious and precocious Anna Cate and her angelic little sister is special for us but this weekend was as Lester Flatt use to say especially special. It probably was miraculous. 


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Fredericksburg sits upon hollowed ground.Here was born a young boy who became a surveyor and later  became who Napoleon called the greatest soldier of his age. We call him merely the father of our country.  The town was the site of a great though terrible Confederate victory, it sits just east of where days later the legendary Jackson won his greatest triumph rolling the Union flank before being mortally wounded. A year later our Confederate fathers battled our Union uncles  again right there as the gallant Lee nearly (and some say on purpose) lost his life on Traveler before a group of Texans rescued him.


And in the middle of this sacred site, the stately Fredericksburg Baptist Church has stood and still does magnificently, maybe even a little defiantly, certainly proudly. A photograph of her taken after those terrible  battles is one of the pictorial icons of that tragic time.We have it in our home and every time I gaze on it , I receive a measure of strength.

But her greatness has not passed. I am on record as saying I have never been in a fellowship more worthy of the Nazarene than within those  ancient and battle scared walls. Her battles did not end at Appomattox Courthouse, for she continues to wage pitched war against poverty, bigotry, homelessness,and despair. We often think of the "social gospel" as a gift from the Methodists, but it was the German Baptist in Brooklyn, Walter Rauschenbusch who wrote in 1918 " A Theology for the Social Gospel." The Baptist have a glorious, though somewhat neglected, tradition of serving the "least of these." Its not neglected in this Frederickburg Baptist Church.

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B J grew up in that church and when our dear daughter Sarah moved to Virginia she began to worship there and later joined,taking advantage of her Methodist baptism at the Fairfield Baptist Church as a youth. I am about ready to begin to tell the tale of the miracle for one of the saints of that church was BJ's late mother Susie. Evidently she did  everything in that church and everyone,everyone adored her. When she died, the church was crushed but seemed to get a second wind in good works trying to live up to her standard. Our granddaughters are beloved lavishly there because they are Susie's. Molly and I know that and we are grateful.


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Now before the little namesake of her maternal grandmother was dedicated, the minister Larry Haun, said," I hope you will indulge word of personal privilege. We are told that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses and I believe Susie is here to see this." He then spoke for the whole congregation when he said,almost under his breath,"I loved that woman."IMG_0121.jpg picture by batesking04
Now all the above are facts. Historical facts. I am about to tell you another historical fact and am going to leave to you the explanation. I merely submit sometimes the most logical explanation is a spiritual one. But you decide.

Here is the last thing I wish to relate about the dedication in that sacred church near that hallowed ground. We went to Susie's grave afterwards and the kinetic Anna Cate became the most somber I have ever seen her. She went to Susie's grave and knelt uncued, and put her cheek against that cold stone.IMG_0198.jpg picture by batesking04


Everything I have told you is true. Everything. And I say that something else is true. Susie came back to welcome her granddaughter into her church and her other grandchild was there to welcome Susie back. I believe that as much as I believe everything else I have told you.

IMG_0196.jpg picture by batesking04

Its sacred ground up there.


(Photographer of this picture )



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Thank you, Daddy.  What blessings I've had learning from you that spiritual explanations are indeed often the most logical.  You have provided such a rich example for me to find meaning in life as I've watched you pilgrim for stories of facts, tales of love and fellowship among saints who walk among us as well as those who have gone before I came, and accounts of miracles. Thank you so much for weaving your beautiful take on life in the retelling of the experience we shared in our family, who on this day included Susie. 

4 comments:

Whitney said...

Daddy Doug is touching as always! Sunday was a special day, one that I know you, BJ and the rest of your family will always cherish. Wish we lived closer so we could experience more of these events together.

Love to you, BJ, your girls and the rest of the family!

Patti said...

OH, so, so sweet! Your family is just beautiful, what little princesses you have! I love that your father wrote this for you- so touching and eloquent!!
Give those little angel-girls kisses from my Lily:)

patsy said...

your father writes so beautifully and the pictures are amazing! your family looked just beautiful on such a wonderful day...

The Future Mrs. said...

That is so precious! I found your blog while I was browsing around through my cousins (Patsy @ Miss Maggie Rae) thought it was cute, wanted to leave a comment! I'll definitely be back! Great Pics!