Friday, September 13, 2013

Episode 13: Walnuts and Jesus' Drop Kick

This week's episode of this Missourian Life comes from the amazing Sarah Nichole Klaassen.  Follow her blog here: Living and Other Mysteries.

A couple of years ago I decided to harvest walnuts.
I’d forgotten about one magical early October afternoon until Dr. Emilie Townes reminded me with a comment from her formal installation as the new dean of Vanderbilt University Divinity School: “After all we’re in Nashville where the song ‘Drop Kick Me Jesus Through the Goal Posts of Life’ has deep theological meaning.”
How a phrase can spark a memory.
We’d just moved to Missouri. I was unemployed and looking to expand my domestic skill set, and (more importantly) walnuts were free.
I did just enough internet research to be dangerous and then I started picking up the green-hulled specimens in our yard. It grew from there. On my walks around the neighborhood I would keep an eye out for walnut trees, which it turns out are everywhere.
I tried to be subtle, but to Jamie’s embarrassment, I walked a few steps into many a yard to glean.
In retrospect, perhaps it had gone too far when we pulled over by the side of the road on an apple-picking trip to north central Missouri. In my defense, without my single-minded pursuit of free nuts, this never would have happened:
We parked on a gravel road turn-off, crossed the highway, waded through the ditch to the walnut jackpot, and began to fill our bucket. As time passed, we became more bold and ventured from the ditch into the plowed under field. Not long after, an elderly man from the house next door headed our way.
I thought: Crap. We’re trespassing. We’re in trouble.
Turns out not. He’d noticed our peculiar quest and invited us to head over to his place next. He had two trees and a ground full of nuts.
We crossed back over the ditch, got the car, parked in his driveway. Not always being good at small-talk, I sometimes feel a bit awkward in these kinds of social encounters with strangers. Fortunately he spared us the trouble and headed inside. We started to gather and a few moments later heard music. Our hospitable stranger had brought out his cigarettes, a lawn chair, and a guitar.
I almost laughed out loud. My first thought: is this really happening? Why yes, yes it is.
The genre was classic country, and the one song I remember:
Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life
End over end neither left nor to right
Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights
Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life
The deep theological meaning that day was less about football metaphors and the Christian life and more about hospitality and the divine power of saying yes.
I have to admit that the walnuts didn’t turn out so well, but that’s another story, because that day we left fully satisfied.
Ah the tales we can tell of this Missourian life.

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