Years ago when I was just a fledgling young adult I stumbled upon a stack of old candy bar wrappers that my grandmother had carefully saved through the years. A dozen or so “Mr. Goodbar” wrappers had been devotedly pressed like wildflowers on exhibit and preserved as a mute testimony to my grandfather’s attempt at romance.
My grandfather, Papa, attended Rockville Academy, in rural Putnam County. The school is still standing with a historical marker designating it as the oldest consolidated rural school in Georgia and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. His memories of his years attending that farm school live on in the stories he shared with us. He laughed about the recollection of a school holiday when as boys they led a cow (or was it a mule?) up the stairs of the schoolhouse and locked her in for the duration of the break. Then there was the time when, along with some accomplices, he took a mason jar, placed it over the hole of a nest of yellow-jackets and filled it to the brim. Later in the afternoon someone rolled the jar down the aisle of the classroom releasing the now very angry yellow-jackets and affectively releasing class for the day. Corporal punishment was in use and was no doubt used frequently.
For reasons I am not clear, by the time Papa was a teenager he began attending Eatonton Academy – the school in town which was also the same school house attended by my daddy, and later my sister, brothers and me. It was there he moved from pranks with cows and yellow-jackets to taking notice of girls. If a girl sat in front of him and her pigtails got just close enough to his desktop, the chances were good he would take the opportunity to dip one in the ink well. Many times he talked about the time he took a sewing needle and stuck it through the callous of his big toe and then proceeded to prod the backsides of unsuspecting ladies seated nearby. Yes, Papa was real ladies’ man.
One lady, however, caught his eye and kept him. He traded pranks for generous tokens of affection. In the 1930s a Mr. Goodbar candy bar was a luxury that could be secured with a nickel. He bought several, slipping them to Mabel Dennis during study hall. The rest, as they say, is history. I have some of those wrappers as a nod to nostalgia, family history and young love. Boys and girls grown up, hard work wears you down, and life soon catches up with you. My grandparents are buried in the church cemetery of Philadelphia United Methodist Church, bordered by hay fields and cow pastures. One day all that is left of me will go out there too, unless my progeny think otherwise.
Has love ever pushed you to act foolish or wasteful or careless? I hope so. “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant…” so says the Apostle Paul. Love is also messy and risky. Love can cause you to do things and say things you thought not possible.
May you and I be known for that kind of love – patient, kind, not envious or boastful or arrogant…foolish, wasteful, careless and messy. May we fall in love with those who need to be loved the most, which, when you think about it, doesn’t really leave anybody out. May we love the work of God, the mission of God, already at work in our world and through others. And may we attempt to do that which we did not think possible.
Because God loves, we love too. There will be tokens in eternity that will tell the story.
It is a rather foolish thought I know. But I have Mr. Goodbar wrappers to remind me it’s possible.