Beliefs

I believe in the old woman I once knew, who said: “If you REALLY wanna love someone, give’em something good to eat.”

DEAR SEAN:

What things do you believe in?

ELEVEN-YEARS-OLD-IN-CHAPEL-HILL

DEAR ELEVEN:

I believe in fried chicken. The kind made by every granny you’ve ever known. The kind fried in black iron skillets.

I believe it is powerful stuff. Which is probably why you see it at funeral receptions, baby showers, and churches.

I also believe in hand-rolled biscuits made from flour, fat, salt, baking powder, and buttermilk. To add additional ingredients to this mix would be like drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa.

I believe in teaching young men to clean fish. I believe in kids who ask too many questions. And I believe in girls who are gutsy enough to be themselves.

I believe girls have it harder than boys. And I’m sorry for that.

I believe in giving money to the homeless—not once or twice, but every time I see someone down on their luck. Every single time. I believe in giving more than I should.

I believe in old-time country dances. Long ago, before TV’s, smartphones, and twenty-four-hour news channels, I believe people threw more parties.

I believe in bowing heads to say grace. I believe in crickets, loud frogs, and places where you cannot hear busy highways.

I believe in magic tricks. And in teenagers who haven’t found themselves yet. I believe in all golden retrievers, Labs, bloodhounds, some Jack Russels. And marriage.

I believe in Marie, Lorena, and Nadia—living at a battered women’s shelter in South Georgia. I believe in high-school dropouts, and kids who miss their daddies. I believe in nurses.

I believe in music made by hand, fiddles, upright pianos, and the poetry of Hank Williams. I believe in Willie Nelson.

I believe in the memory of grandparents, and keeping them alive with stories. I believe in making lowly people famous, and famous people lowly.

And I believe this world is better than most give it credit. I believe that if folks truly knew how much good there was, they would quit hurting each other.

There are kindhearted people. I have seen them. I have shaken their hands, hugged their necks. To find them, you have to know where to look, but they’re around.

They are the sort who attend funerals for those they barely knew. Who stand in maternity wards, looking at newborns through glass windows.

They are the kind who stop cars to help strangers change tires. They are big tippers, self-effacers, shower-singers, and casserole makers.

And I believe in them.

I believe in the old woman I once knew, who said: “If you REALLY wanna love someone, give’em something good to eat.”

Granny. I believe in the wisdom of sweet women, weather-worn, wrinkled, solemn ladies who know their ways around skillets. Who kiss cheeks with dry lips, who make the world sunny by dusting counters with flour.

I believe in the power of their sugar. In their fried chicken. In the oil of their love. And I believe they are about as close to God as you can get, here on earth.

Above all, I believe that our beliefs don’t amount to mule spit in this world.

It’s what we do that counts.

23 comments

  1. Annie - November 7, 2017 1:43 pm

    You gotta REALLY love someone to make them a fruitcake! <3

    Reply
  2. Barbara - November 7, 2017 1:43 pm

    I love this. I am on the list twice. Makes me happy. I’m a granny and a nurse.

    Reply
  3. Alice - November 7, 2017 1:45 pm

    Beautifully said and so true!

    Reply
  4. Patricia A. Mundt - November 7, 2017 1:56 pm

    Wonderful!!!

    Reply
  5. bee1954 - November 7, 2017 1:57 pm

    Perfect! It’s what we do that counts…

    Reply
  6. Melissa Nelson - November 7, 2017 2:09 pm

    I have been reading you for about the last four minutes then one of my parishioners sent me something that you wrote. I mediately subscribe to it and have been passing them on and I even scrapped the sermon recently and read something that you wrote( I did give you the credit ).
    I’m a six generation Texan married to a retired judge in South Carolina that keeps telling me Texas and in the south. I just smile at him and let him live in his misunderstanding. I suppose the reason I’m replying this time is because even though many have your stories have resonated with me this one made me both small and cry at the same time. That was quite an affirmation of faith he wrote thanks again for sharing with what you see what you experience and what you believe

    Reply
  7. Jack Darnell - November 7, 2017 2:25 pm

    And I believe you are right!

    Reply
  8. Jack Darnell - November 7, 2017 2:25 pm

    PS: ‘Specially about that mule spit!

    Reply
  9. Becky - November 7, 2017 2:28 pm

    Well said and so true.

    Reply
  10. Jack - November 7, 2017 2:37 pm

    You are right about parties!

    Reply
  11. Ed S - November 7, 2017 2:58 pm

    You did it again, Sean. You hit the nail on the head. Made me remember Gramma Pet. Reminded me of Poppa. She fried chicken like that. Made those biscuits. He did poorly at school. Beat up a mean boss who deserved it. He could make anything with those hands.They kept us well fed throughout the depression, WWII and Korea. A huge garden, fig trees, pecans, chickens, pigs. We fished with cast nets Poppa knitted. Collected bottles. The movies cost kids a dime. Five bottles. We were loved. No questions about that. Never the slightest doubt. I still miss them and those times. I miss Poppa most. 56 years he’s been gone. I still weep at the loss.

    Thank you, Sean.

    Reply
  12. Ed S - November 7, 2017 3:02 pm

    BTW mom is a nurse as is my wife, son, daughter, sister, her daughter, my niece, son in law, aunts..I am surrounded by strong, caring women and men. Lucky me.

    Reply
  13. Larry - November 7, 2017 3:14 pm

    Sean I am going to be honest before I read your stories I looked at street people who were down in life and said scammers,lazy dope heads and past them by. The only guy I ever gave money to had sign that said “ Will work for beer”. Now I catch myself digging for coins and dollars to give . I ain’t rich and never will be busted my butt welding and turning wrenches to provide for me and mine. Thanks for being my conscious

    Reply
  14. Kathy Daum - November 7, 2017 3:40 pm

    Amen and amen.

    Reply
  15. Pamela McEachern - November 7, 2017 4:28 pm

    “Truths” I believe too. Thank you Sean

    Reply
  16. Connie - November 7, 2017 4:46 pm

    I can’t count how many of your stories I’ve read, but this one is my favorite. I believe in all those things, but I truly believe in showing your love by feeding people. It’s what I do, and what my mom did before she couldn’t, and my grandmothers before us. I believe in the power of love-for music, for children, for the things of the heart. I don’t have money to give but I give my time, my shoulders, my heart. You knocked it out of the park with this one.

    Reply
  17. Wendy - November 7, 2017 5:29 pm

    How do I love this…let me count the ways!

    Reply
  18. CKD - November 7, 2017 5:43 pm

    Your last sentence says it all. You hit the mark again!

    Reply
  19. Joan Raines - November 7, 2017 6:07 pm

    Love this and so agree.

    Reply
  20. muthahun - November 7, 2017 6:20 pm

    “and some Jack Russels…” oh yeah. And in Black and tans, and redbones, and salukis, and most things “hound-y”. And yes, really really really that “It’s what we do that counts.”

    Reply
  21. Marty from Alabama - November 7, 2017 7:24 pm

    You can talk all day, but until you get down and do it, you’re just beating your gums.

    Reply
  22. Jack Quanstrum - November 8, 2017 1:48 am

    The ending is so very true. But all of it was wonderful to read and thought provoking!

    Reply
  23. Sarah Massey - November 8, 2017 2:16 am

    Good job

    Reply

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