Sunday, June 04, 2006

Full Windsor

So I'm tying my necktie this morning getting ready for church and caught myself looking at the tie as I'm tying it.

That's a no no.

Inside my head I replay the time my father taught me to tie a necktie.

It was one of those rights of passage for him.

I was about the age my oldest son is now.

"Never look at the tie when you're tying it. You do it by feel and then consult the mirror to make sure you're sharp. And remember, we Jeffords don't tie a Half Windsor knot, we tie the Full Windsor - it looks sharper."

I couldn't tell you why I thought of that today - it's been almost 30 years.

In fact, it hasn’t been until the last couple of years that I’ve gladly reclaimed wearing a necktie as a part of my attire.

When I was in my early 20’s, I just stopped. Refused, really, to participate in such an “ostentatious” practice.

Oh, how I’ve changed.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that after worship today I was on my way to our hometown, Paducah, for the Memphis Annual Conference session.

And at this conference, Dad is retiring from active ministry, and while this moment is, as it should be, about he and mom and their ministry of 42 years, now that it's here, I'm not sure what I think about it.

For my almost 20 years of active ministry, I've had to understand how to live with a parent who is also a colleague.

That's not always been easy - but it's always been.

Too often preoccupied with how I would deal with it, I’ve rarely wondered how he felt about it.

And now, a mantle is being passed.

As proud as I am of my dad, and his remarkable ministry and pastor's heart, characteristics of which to this day I can only hope to aspire, I find myself sad, and maybe a little scared of what ministry will look like without him.

In my remembrance of how to tie my necktie, I remember him telling me that what he's teaching me is what his father taught him.

Which makes a lot of sense, because that little "how to tie your necktie" speech sounds a whole lot like my Granddaddy. And my remembrance of him emerges with this overly expensive strip of colored cloth I'm tying around my neck.

The things we pass along - the things we want remembered, the things those who come behind us pick up and repeat - it is how our stories endure.

Seems biblical, somehow, doesn't it?

One of these days I'm going to teach my kids how to tie their necktie.

Rest assured, the Jeffords boys will tie Full Windsors.

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