Theology in the Trenches

Friday, August 16, 2019
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Kathleen Kjolhaug

Religion Columnist

Parades … when I watch them … I cry. While standing on main as the parade passes by, tears fall. They have for many a year now.

It’s just a day after the 4th of July, and friend sent a video of this very thing. A neighborhood out east had gathered. If I recollect correct like, the lineup totaled one fire truck, three pickups, one corvette, a tractor, a jeep, two convertibles, seven bunched up motorcycles, one hitched wagon loaded with kids, and a bicycle built for one. Did I mention one golf cart and a four-wheeler wheeling through? An American flag or two waved alongside each as if greeting those viewing from the sidelines. How many were on the sidelines? Precisely six people were perched curbside. I cried as I watched it moments ago. As I write, tears are streaming and my nose is trying desperately to keep pace.

Growing up I recall walking on down to main for the parade. It was a whole two blocks from our house but to a little kid, that was half way around the world. The whole town came out to camp out. We cheered; we waved. And every so oft if you were lucky, hands would take hold of one piece of candy tossed your way. Fun it was.

My tears began falling at such gatherings some thirty years back as I stood along main with my own kids. I remember looking on as my little ones stood watching … mesmerized that such an event was taking place before their very eyes. It lasted mere minutes as the homemade floats were sandwiched between the hometown squad car and fire truck.

As it passed by, I cried … and apparently to this day … I still cry at small town parades.

Perhaps it touches deep because the only possible purpose for such an event is to make other people happy. Certainly grown-ups have other things to do than drive a decorated flatbed down main ... circle back home only to dismantle any décor upon it. It no doubt takes hours to plan and purchase candy for little hopefuls. As best I can tell … it’s all because big people want to make this world a little happier, a little brighter, a little more hope-filled than it was before everyone marched down main.

Funny thing is … big parades don’t make me cry. Perhaps hearts are worn on sleeves in small towns, and we all feel them beating. They beat with the desire to inspire. They beat with the hope of tomorrow that maybe a little one looking on will remember that they were important enough to celebrate.

Just maybe I cry because time’s passing by and sooner than later the ones standing along the sidelines will be driving those pick-ups for the next generation of little eyes looking on. And so it goes …

If we think this is grand, I wonder what’s in store. As we leave this world … the parade of saints that will be lined up to greet us will be downright joy-filled.

“Oh when the saints … go marching in … Oh when the saint go marching in … Oh how I want to be in that number … When the saints go marching in.”

So goes the song and so goes the future and the hope we have in Christ Jesus. Like parades passing by, time marches on. May we be in tune so we will be ready to greet those who are waiting for us … and in turn greet those for whom we will be waiting.

“For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory … forever … Amen” (Matt. 6:13).

( Kathleen Kjolhaug is a religion columnist.)