February 8, 2021

Most days, I spend some time in silence, sitting in the platform rocker that belonged to my great grandmother, Della Ramsey Helm. She was born in Evans City, PA in 1870 and died in Coraopolis, PA in July 1953.  In March of that year, three of her granddaughters (including my mom) gave birth to babies, twin girls, a boy, and me. It made the news, and I have copy of the photo that appeared in the local newspaper featuring the four of us babies, held by our adorning mothers, with great grandma in the middle.

I remember that rocker sitting in my grandmother’s living room, and later in my parents’ living room.  I can still see my grandmother sitting in that rocker, looking out the picture window at the comings and goings in the neighbor, with a cup of coffee and the crusts of her breakfast toast wrapped in a napkin to sneak to my dog.

In the 1960’s the chair was re-upholstered, and the person doing the work discovered that it was stuffed with horsehair! That shouldn’t have been surprising, since my great great grandfather (Della’s husband) was a blacksmith by trade. The rocker was passed to my mother, and then to me. It has traveled from Hershey, PA to Woodstock VA via Wisconsin, Hawaii, and North Carolina.  It has held 6 generations of women, and I do mean women because the seat is a mere 10” off the floor.

I have rocked my grandchildren in that chair, and they have been delighted to rock in it, and play around it as well. When they do, I recall my mom warning me that her friend Christine once put her fingers too close to the rocker and had several fingers so badly crushed that she lost the use of them!

I treasure the rocker. But until one quiet morning last week, I never fully grasped the reality that as I sit in the chair, I am in one sense being held by generations of women, rocking their prayers, their joy and their grief, soothing their babies and themselves. They are a part of the great cloud of witnesses.

The Message translation of the Bible puts it this way, “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! Keep your eyes on Jesus, because he never lost sight of where he was headed, that exhilarating finish in and with God. He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.” (Hebrews 12) 

We are not alone! ~ Anne

These meditations are provided as a ministry in this time of pandemic as a ministry of St. Paul’s U. C. C.

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