Favorite Shirts

Mom is back in the hospital this week.  Here are some Mom stories for you.
Mom didn’t have any use for Sunday School.  Mom was a Girl Scout.  She didn’t believe girls in the 1960’s needed to learn how stay in the lines coloring pictures of Jesus.  Girls needed to learn how to mark trails to keep from getting lost in the woods.  They needed to learn about first aid and aviation.  They needed to learn to sleep on the ground, to build their own fires and start them with one match.  They needed to learn songs from other countries. They needed to learn to lead.
Mom had a sharp eye for girls on the margins.  She didn’t set out to fill her troops with the prettiest and most popular.  She watched for the girls who lived on the wrong streets and had the wrong last names.  I remember the evening she took me in the car to a wrong street to pick up a girl with a wrong last name.  JoAnn was in my class, but I didn’t play with her.  Mom had boxes for JoAnn.  In the first was a new Girl Scout uniform.  Mom had JoAnn try it on so that Mom (who also didn’t have much use for jonna recharge prayer flipped-resizedsewing) could fix the hem just right.  In the other boxes were a new Girl Scout beret, new socks with the little gold flag garters that held them up, and a new sash for collecting merit badges.  After we took JoAnn home, I complained that she kept asking over and over again for glasses of water.  Mom explained to me that where JoAnn lived there wasn’t any running water.  Getting glasses of cool water out of the faucet, which was nothing to me and a nuisance for me to do for JoAnn, was something precious to her.
Mom invited Nellie to spend a summer week with us.  Nellie was in my class at school and I didn’t play with her either.  Nellie’s clothes were dirty.  Mom knew that Nellie’s parents were struggling.  They couldn’t get her to Girl Scout Day Camp.  And Mom wanted Nellie in her troop.  I will never forget the two laundry baskets that Mom gave Nellie and me on the Sunday night before camp began.  Each basket was full of folded shorts and shirts, socks and undies for the week.  On top of one basket was my favorite shirt.  I reached for that basket.  Mom stopped me.  That basket was for Nellie.  More than fifty years later, I can still remember how much I didn’t want Nellie to wear my favorite shirt.  Nellie and I both learned good stuff that week.  She learned about fires and trails and making things for ourselves and leading.  I learned that I hadn’t figured out anything important about sharing until I understood it was about favorites, not discards.
The people of the United Church of Christ have begun living a call to three great loves:  the love of children, the love of neighbor, the love of creation.  As you and your congregation discover wider and deeper ways to love the children of your community and the world, I commend to you what I learned from Mom –  what I learned about Gospel by watching her be a Girl Scout.  Pay holy attention to the children you haven’t been playing with.  Willful, cozy ignorance is evil. Right the wrongs you can. Make sure your favorite shirts are in the basket for sharing.
—Jonna Jensen, Associate Conference Minister

3 Responses to Favorite Shirts

  1. Teressa Clark says:

    Yes. For all moms and non-moms who have G.S. troops and welcome the girls on the margins. And for learning to share our favorites and not our discards. Thank-you, Jonna and Jonna’s mom, with a prayer for whatever it is you each most need today.

  2. Bill R. Yungclas says:

    Oh Jonna. You and your Mom are precious, as are her life lessons. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Sue Johannsen says:

    Jonna, thanks for sharing. G.S. is in my blood, too. G.S. and the three great loves are like bread and butter – they go together in their goals and nourishment of the soul. Peace.

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