Quick confessions: I can’t sew a button, and I didn’t finish reading Edith Schaeffer’s beast of a book The Tapestry. Both of these things I feel like are unspoken rights of passage for Christian women (along with cooking a turkey, which I am proud to say I conquered a few Thanksgivings ago!) Now that you know these things, I feel I can continue on with my post.
I did read enough of The Tapestry to appreciate how well Edith understood the context she was born into, the history of her grandparents and parents, how God intricately wove so many lives together to get to a point where she and Francis were born, met, and married. I also heard Os Guiness (yep, the beer family) speak recently. I was blown away not with how well read he was or how well spoken he was (though he was both). I was blown away with how well he understood and appreciated the factors of nationality, history, and family that led to his life and his faith. All that to say, I have been thinking a lot lately about how little we, as Americans, know our context and I, as an individual, know my context.
Before coming to stay in Houston with G’s family, I committed to wanting to hear and record some more of his parents’ and grandparents’ stories. What a rich history has been woven into this tapestry before us.
Ammachee (G’Joe’s momma) was born into a farming family in Keralla (the Southernmost state in India). Her grandfather had died at 21, leaving her grandmother a single mother in a society where women didn’t work. She refused to remarry and instead began a yogurt business by collecting left over milk from neighbor’s houses. Outraged by her progressive views, her parents would often try to ruin her yogurt to get her to stop her business. She continued on and put her children through school (which was incredibly rare in those days). Now I see where G’Joe and Eli J get their stubbornness.
Ammachee’s father, through school by his yogurt-making, strong-willed single mother, got the equivalent of a physician’s assistant degree in India. Upon graduating, he began making his way through the hill country (by foot, because that is what you did). Lost and with no luck in finding a much-needed job, he fell to his knees on a dirt road and cried out to God to help him. A moment later, the British owner of a well-established tea plantation, the Peermade Plantation, drove up on his motorbike. Upon meeting, he offered him a job as the head of the clinic for his whole plantation, 100 miles away from his family.
Ammachee remembers getting to go visit the plantation for summer vacation. Her mother would load up the whole family, German shepherds and all, and go stay for the summer. They loved the British style houses with windows and paint. They loved the huge gardens the Indian workers were allowed to cultivate on private plots. Sounds like a movie, right? I know, but this was really their lives.
While the boys were playing Legos on the floor, Appacha (G’Joe’s dad) was telling me that they didn’t have toys when they were little. I know all our parents say things like that, but for real, they didn’t!). He decided he would teach us how to make toys from Yucca sticks (which he just happened to have on hand). So, make toys from Yucca sticks we did!
He said they would make blocks, guns, and rafts out of the sticks they had hollowed out, tying them together with banana leaves. The girls would take the squishy material from the hollowed out sticks (think packing peanuts, but organic style) and make them beads for garlands to wear around their necks.
What a sweet moment to bridge the gaps between cultures and generations. I am not sure the boys appreciated it as much as I did, but I do pray that in time, they would treasure these moments and learn to appreciate their rich heritage.
In the meanwhile, I pray that I would learn to appreciate the tapestry of time, history, people, and faith that our lives are being woven into, even now.