This is a guest post in the sense that I am passing on a story that I heard. Doing that, sharing, and inevitably shaping, stories is how faith is passed on.
I was having breakfast with my friend Nancy last week when she told me a story. In fact, we were not telling stories – it was more a Marie Kondo house re-joying uncluttering kind of conversation. Her mother had been the keeper of all things family-historical and now they had come to her. She wasn’t interested in EBay. She wanted to give them to nieces and nephews who would appreciate them, but she wanted those folks to visit her so she could tell the story behind them because the story was what mattered.
This was one such story – Nancy has a sampler, a cup, and a spoon from her Great-great Aunt or Great-great Grandmother – she knew which, but I am a little unclear. This woman was a driver on the Underground Railroad. She lived in western Connecticut and her husband was a preacher. She would drive to New Jersey with her horse and buggy and the buggy had a false bottom just big enough for one former slave to hide while she drove through dangerous New York back to Connecticut. The fugitive would eat and rest and then be taken by someone else north to Canada, the Promised Land.
That’s all Nancy wanted to say as she would pass on the sampler, the cup and the spoon. Remember this story.
A sampler may be all most white folks have of the vast injustice that was American slavery, and many more turned away from its reality then, and turn away from its memory now. But these are surely days that we live in now when we should thread our needles, tell the stories, however small or large, pass down the spoon and drink for the cup, find our false-bottomed buggy and, one runaway by one runaway, take our journeys.