Now you have to think pre-video game days. We had a TV in the house and mom didn’t mind using it as a baby-sitting tool. The problem was we only got 2 channels (both in black and white-no color), and so for most of the day there wasn’t much for us kids to watch. We became easily bored especially during long hot summer days. We’d complain to mom, but she was unmoved by our pain. She would tell us to go outside and play. That didn’t help us because there wasn’t much to do outside either. So, when we complained again, she’d reply as she showed us the door, “Well, go chase your granny ‘round a stump.”
Chasin’ granny ‘round a stump; it’s a curious phrase and I don’t know the origin of it, but we children knew what it meant. You see back in those days, parents didn’t feel obligated to entertain their children.It was up to us to entertain ourselves, even if that meant hours of idle and meaningless activity.
Sometimes, I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time in my life “chasin’ granny.”
There is a story in the Old Testament about Moses and the Congregation of Israel. It says that they camped around the same mountain for 3 and ½ years. Three and ½ years!! You can imagine that this situation became extremely boring. Truly, they were chasin’ granny ‘round a stump.
But this wasn’t right. They should have been in the Promised Land enjoying the good life. The fact is they had their chance. God brought them to the River Jordan, and even though the scouts came back loaded with grapes and fruit, the people would not cross over.You see, besides the milk and honey, there were giants and high-walled cities and fierce warrior kings in the Promised Land.
Gee, God forgot to mention that part of the deal.He failed to mention that getting the milk and honey would take effort and force. Well the Israelites were not going to have any of that. I guess they envisioned a paradise where they would lay in a hammock and sip mint-juleps. Battling giants wasn’t their idea of the good life. And so they turned back; to what, I have no idea.
The interesting thing is that God didn’t abandon them after they turned back. He continued to be the God of Israel. That’s the way God is- always faithful and always keeping true to His side of the contract. But what could He do with them? So for 40 years, they wandered in the desert. For 40 years, they chased granny ‘round a stump.
We shouldn’t be too hard on them. God often brings us to our own River Jordan and shows us a new land of a deeper spiritual life and a closer walk with Him. It looks really sweet, but hang on, I can also see fierce battles and giants and high walled cities over there.The kingdom will have to be taken by force.
Well, chasin’ granny seems a whole lot easier. So most of the time my answer to God is “thanks, but no thanks.” God remains my God, but its granny-chasin’ time.
Elder Zosimas had reached his granny chasin’ time. In the beginning of the story of St. Mary of Egypt, he says that he was convinced that he had reached the pinnacle of monastic life. He believed that there was no monk anywhere that had anything to teach him. All that was left for him was to run around the stump chasing granny. Of course, God had other plans for him. He would end up chasing a granny, but oh, what a granny she was!
“If you cross the Jordan, you will find true peace.” These are the words that the Theotokos spoke to Mary, the harlot. Mary did indeed cross over and for 47 years struggled to take the kingdom by force. The force she used was the power of repentance. Mary said that the beasts she battled were her passions and desires. Given her former life, it was a mighty battle indeed.
When Zosimas met her, St. Mary had won the battle and had found true peace. He discovered that there was much more for him to do. Indeed, there was a personal River Jordan for him to cross. Looking at St. Mary, he saw the far horizon of spirituality. He realized that he had hardly taken the first step on the path to God.
These same words are addressed to each of us: “If you cross the Jordan, you will find true peace.” Honestly, it will be a battle and a struggle, but have faith. God is with us and promises us that we will be victorious. After all, how strong was that high-walled city? By faith, Joshua commanded and the walls came down with the blast of trumpets. Trumpets? That’s not so bad. And how tough were those giants? By faith, a little shepherd boy killed one with a pebble and a sling. That’s not tough at all. And the stone in our sling is the same as St. Mary’s – repentence- and before it no giant can stand.
The choice is ours: by faith we can cross over and find true peace; or, even though God will still be with us, we can play it safe, stay on this side of the Jordan and “chase Granny.”
Holy Mother Mary, pray to God for us!
Source: Ramblings of a Redneck Priest