by Rachel Scott
When I was a child, Sunday meant going to church and singing my heart out. After church, my family and I would head to my great grandparent’s farm in Carol County, Virginia to enjoy a meal around the table and an afternoon of play. I remember riding the tire swing, running through the apple orchard, playing in the creek and picking grapes from the vine by the barn. We would ride horses, fetch water from the fresh spring, help my Granny Winesett in the kitchen, sit with her on the front porch swing and listen to her stories.
Time seemed to stop on Sundays at Granny’s. It was an afternoon when everyone came together. My great grandparents, Ed and Bernie Winesett, had seven children: Gerald, Eldon, Neil, Jane, Marcia, Boyd and Elizabeth (my grandmother). My grandmother (the oldest child) and my father Jim (the oldest grandchild) both gave me the gift of knowing my great grandmother well into my thirties. I had the privilege of talking with her, taking walks with her and learning how to kill, prepare and cook a chicken for dinner. I had the privilege of loving her and knowing how deeply she loved me. When I was a little girl, I sang “Just a swingin” at the top of my lungs, perched on top of her picnic table on Sunday afternoons. Later, I sang all of her favorite hymns over her and my family as we said goodbye to her in this life.
Sundays meant time with this incredible woman and time with my family. (My great grandfather Ed died in ‘84.) My cousins, aunts and uncles gathered around the table to pray and to enjoy a good southern meal—the kind with biscuits, something that Granny had been cooking on her wood fire stove the night before, vegetables from the garden and my Aunt Linda’s famous éclairs for dessert. I learned to love a good meal that always started with prayer and ended with stories from years past. The stories Granny shared were funny, sad and shaped me into the woman I have become. These stories and shaping came from this table, the porch swing and that beloved farm.
My parents, Jim and Terri, gave my sister Sarah and I the greatest gift as we spent our Sundays together with extended family. My great grandmother told stories of her childhood and God’s faithfulness in providing for her family. God provided when she and my great grandfather married as young teenagers and moved to the mountains of West Virginia (where my grandmother was born) where he worked in the coal mines. She told me stories of how they moved back to Virginia and built a farm and family in Carrol County. They made a place for their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to return to on Sundays to sing, tell stories, work, play and remember.
When I look back at those Sundays and the way they shaped me, I am grateful. I am grateful for the simple rhythm of worshipping with my parents and sister, sharing a meal with my extended family and playing in the creek at the farm. I can still sing the words to “Just a swingin,” and I can remember standing in the middle of her picnic table, smiling and laughing. This woman who led her family with a quiet gracefulness from her kitchen, her farm and her heart, shaped me into a woman who remembers. I remember the place that shaped me—the place where I return to when my heart needs rest. The place I remember when days were simpler and time seemed to stop. Time with family was more important than anything else. My parents knew that this place had blessed them, and they knew that if we spent enough time on the farm with this special woman and the rest of our family it would bless me too … They were right.
When you look back on your childhood is there someone who shaped you like my parents and great grandmother shaped me? Maybe it’s a family friend, a place or memory. What stories are you telling around your table that are shaping your children? Your community? What memories are you intentionally making that will shape your children and their children? How do you remember those who have shaped you?
Rachel Scott is a singer, song writer, worship leader, lover of flip flops and a nonprofit leader who lives in Richmond, Virginia with her crazy Springer Spaniel, Diego Sanchez. She leads, inspires and disciples young leaders and artists through the work of Spence Network: www.spencenetwork.org