Kilts and Creeds

I don't know much about my genealogy. I wish our kin had one of those large cracked leather Bibles with a family tree printed in the front, the kind that goes back seven or eight generations. I know that on my mother's side, if you trace far enough, we'd find our way to a Cherokee Indian Chief. Our family name was Lightfoot. When I'm feeling low about my station in life, I remember I'm Cherokee royalty. On my dad's side, there's Scottish blood. I don't know how my ancestors arrived here – or why. But perhaps this explains my enduring love of the Scottish brogue, Sean Connery and kilts.

There's a fellow in the local outdoor gear shop who wears a red, black and green kilt to work. He has long, black hair tied in a man-tail. He's got the leather boots and the lean, muscular frame to go with it. I keep expecting to find him with an axe slung over his shoulder. It's quite an experience to see a fellow in a skirt and think he's the manliest thing you've seen in a long while. I've never owned a kilt or an axe, but I'm happy to say that those who do are my people.

The stories that have led us to this life, this land, are not merely biographical detail. They are the threads that have weaved us into being. We belong to a history. We didn't create it. We didn't choose it. Yet here we are, chosen and crafted by a story that was before us, a story that has invited us in.

This is what the church's creeds offer. The Apostles' Creed is a story. If we read the Creed first as a list of theological facts, we may get the gist, but we'll entirely miss the juice. The Creed is the story of God and God's action for us, toward us. The Creed narrates the drama, tugs us through love and ruin, through hell and back. And with each movement, the story reminds us of our history and reminds us of who we are, lest we forget. We are the ones loved by God, loved so much that God refuses to forget us. This story has chosen us. This story has made us. If it tells us anything at all, the Creed tells us we are part of a history and a people: God's history, God's people. We are not (and never have been) alone.

And the Creed is also a prayer; it ends with amen. Good stories are always a sort of prayer. They carry us through all the beauty and the rubble to the place of truth. When a good story has worked it's way in us, we have little to say except Amen. May it be so

10 Replies to “Kilts and Creeds”

  1. Winn, I was thinking about how we “tell the story” this morning… started when I caught sight of the boxed-up nativity, stored away in our laundry. I have seen it so many times, and though I love to get it out every year at Christmas, it somehow does not represent the fullness of the story I am coming to know. I may just find something different – grittier? for next Christmas. We need people who can tell the story with new words, and show it in new ways. Thanks for your insights 🙂

  2. “I wish our kin had one of those large cracked leather Bibles with a family tree printed in the front, the kind that goes back seven or eight generations…”
    I am in the process of trying to create such a Bible for my family. I want it to have the hand-written notes,and the old pictures so that my son(and any other children we might have) will be able to look and see the story of his family and the story of God. Since I’m a “Bible nerd” ,there will probably be a shelf full of Bibles and other journals that will contain the moments I’m living now. If God had a bookshelf or a library,I wonder what books would be on it…

    1. I imagine there’d be a few Steinbecks and a couple of my books, of course. I do love the Bible you’re putting together for your family…and for yourself.

  3. My 80+ year old aunt pulled together genealogy for my mother’s side of the family, all the way to the 1500’s. But on my dad’s side of the family, I know very little and didn’t think to ask before he died in the early 80’s. He was a Hyatt, but not of the hotelier fame. Tradition has it that they were sheep and/or cattle thieves. Sadly, all of his siblings have passed away as well.

    This post on creed has me pondering. Since I grew up Baptist, I didn’t learn the Apostles Creed. Even now, our church is so anti-creed because of Baptist persecution (back in the day). But when I hear the words, they don’t seem like bondage. Instead, they’re more like you describe – story of journey and adoption, worthy of Amen!

    (Nice new digs, by the way.)

    1. Thanks, Cheryl. I like the place. Still has the smell of fresh paint, which I like. I too understand the resistance to creeds, but we all tell ourselves stories to remember, right? The Israelites did. The Church always has. And most families I know rehearse their narratives. These creeds were never intended to persecute (a sad, sad thing) but to help us imagine. And remember. I find them to be friends.

  4. Your new place is simple, clean, refreshing. Your words are just as refreshing ~ gifts to all of us. Thank you for that! At 62 years old I am realizing that my story of God’s work in my heart is the greatest gift I can give my family when I have gone on to spend eternity with Him. Oh, and we know someone who would be thrilled to work on your genealogy as it’s become his fun hobby. Give him the info that you have and you will make his day! No charge to family of course!

    1. Thanks, Cherry. I don’t have much more info than I gave. I have thought of going to Oklahoma one of these days and see what Lightfoot info I can find. Or better, Scotland…

  5. Winn, I came over here from Good to have you with us.

    As a wilderness fan for many years, I can picture the guy you described above. And I wish I could wear a kilt just like him, but also with long socks. The socks I can do; the kilt I can’t. Too much middle school residue for me to have that kind of culture-kicking confidence. So I’ll just wait till the early adopters are done with them and then I’ll join the late crowd.

    Take care.

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