The Roots in Rocky Soil

This post is written in response to:

Ireland 275

Roots in Rocky Soil

by JE Lillie

I stood by the western wall of Blarney Castle staring at the twisted roots, remnants of the growth that had once encased the castle in its strength. The image took me back to my own family whose roots were not in Ireland but in a place just as rocky, some would say barren.

I grew up just South of the New Hampshire border smack dab in the middle of Massachusetts. I was third generation conservative Republican in one of the most liberal states in the union. My father was a small business man and civically minded citizen in the seventies, fully ensconced in the small business world, strongly favoring the free market economy while standing firmly against every philosophy of the “liberal pinko commies”, as he called them. Both Dad and Gramps served in town leadership throughout their lives choosing to ply their minority political stance wherever they could.

Dad was a hard man and I was his soft son. We were as different in manner as two men could be. He spent his days practicing his shot on ants in the back yard. I collected the little critters in jars trying to save them from my dad’s quick draw.

I began my spiritual journey early in life. At first I was fascinated by witchcraft. As a young teen I studied with the Jehovah’s Witnesses and then followed the bread crumbs God left me into the Pentecostal church my Uncle attended. My father an avowed agnostic (which really just means he refused to make any decision at all) instantly declared me crazy.

Maybe it was just teenage rebellion but I ran rather than walked deep into the church. Dad and I had many arguments over that and over my subsequent decision to become a minister. But when Dad became sick in the early nineties I left Bible College and came home to help in the business. After he died suddenly I launched into an eight year stint in the business world working newspapers and other management positions before finding my way back into the church.

I have served as an assistant pastor in the town I grew up in since 1996 and recently I was appointed to a town board in that same town. Somewhere along the way I seem to have captured my father’s sense of humor (something I didn’t even know he possessed when I was growing up) at least that’s what people tell me. I also captured his politics though I am sure he would probably think I have some “pinko commie” leanings were he still around. Somewhere in my journey I got a little tougher which tells me that maybe somewhere in his journey my father was a little bit softer and maybe he and I weren’t so different after all. Maybe we were just at different points of growth in this rocky New England soil.

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