Guns, Horses, and a Chicken Named Gladys
Last Saturday morning, I awoke to the sound of chickens. As a city and suburbs girl, I didn’t know prior to that morning that chickens make lots of noise when they lay eggs. And they lay them early in the morning. It’s a bawking, comical noise. One that made me wake up laughing, with visions of the Swedish chef from the Muppets filling my head.
Once I got up, I heard the sizzle of bacon frying. The smell carried me into the kitchen. My Mom and Aunt were talking.
“Good morning sleepy head,” my Aunt said, which instantly brought to mind Christmas and Thanksgiving mornings, walking with blurry eyes into this, and my nearby Grandparents kitchens. Her house was full of memories.
“Mmm bacon,” I said, yawning.
“And we’re going to have fresh eggs from the chickens too!,” oh right, the chickens are there for a reason.
The reason, was one my Mom and I talked in length about on the two and a half hour drive to Palm Bay, FL, where my Aunt and Uncle lived. My Aunt Ginny, a staunch conservative follower of Glenn Beck, had started to stockpile food. She was also raising chickens. Both in an effort to be more self-sufficient and less dependent on the government. Like my Grandfather, and the majority of my family, she was deeply troubled by the last four years, and was excited about the prospect of a Romney presidency. She was scared of what would happen if Obama won re-election.
When I accepted my Aunt’s invitation to visit the weekend before the election, somehow, the topic of politics had not crossed my mind. Instead, I had visions of just this; bacon, conversation, and snuggling on the couch with her old-as-dirt dog, Tess.
“What’s the plan today?” I asked. My eyes were focused on the box of scones resting on the table.
“That’s what your Aunt and I were just discussing,” Mom said.
“Well,” Aunt Ginny said, grabbing some homemade Amish butter from the fridge, “first I thought we could head to the clam festival, where Uncle Kevin is doing a natural horsemanship show, and then we’ll pick up the pictures and work on your wedding album.”
The album was the main reason I was there. My aunt was a Creative Memories small business owner, and at my wedding, had graciously offered to use her skills to help us preserve our pictures. Six months later, I was finally taking her up on the offer.
“Natural horsemanship huh? Cooool,” I said, trying not to roll my city girl eyes.
It fit, them owning horses. A few hours after Mom and I arrived that first night, Uncle Kevin had come through the front door wearing a cowboy hat, boots, and wranglers that were tighter than most pants I own. He looked like a genuine cowboy. The fact he was also carrying not one, not two, but THREE guns, didn’t hurt that image any. He’d just come back from riding four wheeler’s with his co-workers. I can’t even make this stuff up.
The morning went by quick. I was sitting in the back seat of my Uncles humongous truck with my Mom, on the way to the clam festival, when the topic of politics came up. It took less than two minutes.
“Now, I know you’re not going to like me asking this, and don’t take offense-” Kevin said.
“-I always love when you start sentences like that,” I interrupted.
He laughed. “Seriously though, I have a question for you.”
As it turns out, he didn’t have a question for me. He had a million. Questions about my beliefs on the Bible, homosexuality, welfare, and even marijuana.
What shocked me, was that during the long drive to the clam festival, no fight broke out. There was no name calling. No anger. No accusations. Just an honest, calm, mature conversation between adults. He asked questions, and I answered them to the best of my ability. We listened to each other.
During the rest of the weekend, while Aunt Ginny helped me to create a wedding album far more beautiful than I could have hoped for, more questions were asked. More were answered. The news was watched, and discussed, and we never stopped talking politics. We talked about it over lunch, dinner, even while they forced me to watch a show I’d always assumed was stupid, but ended up loving, called “Duck Dynasty.”
That weekend, I pet chickens, gathered eggs, watched horses, and ate clams. I got driven around by both my cousins, which was surreal, as I remember them both when they were barely out of diapers. When it was time to say goodbye, I was genuinely sad to leave.
A few days later, on Tuesday night, I watched the election results come in. When the man I had voted for won the Presidency, I was happy. But it wasn’t like 2008, when I was so thrilled that I screamed and cried and immediately posted a gloat-y status to Facebook. Yes, I was older, and more mature than before. Obama’s previous term, and 2012 campaign, didn’t fill me with as much “Hope” as before. But that wasn’t it. What stopped me from wanting to manically rub my victory into everyone’s faces, was the image of those receiving faces in my mind.
While I was genuinely happy for the country, myself, and President Obama, I was sad for my family. I knew how excited and sure they were that Romney would win, and how scared they were of what would happen if Obama won a second term. Even though I didn’t agree with their fears, because I loved them, I couldn’t ignore them.
It was the first time that God gave me real empathy for a group I’d been praying he’d help me love better; Christians. In the car on the way to the clam festival last weekend, I’d confessed to my family how much I struggle with loving Conservative Christians, who oppose everything I’m fighting for. Driving back home with my Mom, I mentioned that it was something I needed to pray about.
God answered that prayer. Tuesday night, and Wednesday morning, I had no urge to gloat. I had no desire to rub anything in anyone’s faces. Instead, what my heart longed for was reconciliation. A movement away from the right and left that seperates so many Christians, and a joining in the middle, to meet Jesus. Two days after the results, I’m still committed to seeing that happen.
I’m just thankful that God chose to use my gun toting, chicken owning, Glenn Beck loving, redneck family to teach me that lesson.