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Pondering the Pandemic

By Susan Torn Young

The Covid-19 pandemic has been easy on me. I have a husband, a family, grandchildren I don’t have to home school, I have friends, I have facetime. But most of all, I have real time. Time to reflect, time to catch up on business things and legal things, and time to do projects that I would have never done.

One of these projects was getting my old VHS tapes converted to DVDs. But first, I had to watch them. Little did I know what joy and laughter that would bring. I saw tapes of children’s weddings, graduations, tapes of my parents with their grace and humor, and tapes of myself when I was much younger and much better looking.

One of the tapes I chose to watch was the funeral of Kenneth Chafin. For those of you who do not know, Kenneth Chafin was the pastor of our church from 1972 to 1984, and in my opinion, he started the movement to make South Main Baptist Church what it is still becoming today: a church of grace, a church of reality, a church where each person can freely express what he believes, and a church of social action and love. A church not caught up in itself or its denomination, and a church where all are welcome.

As I watched that tape and saw Kenneth Chafin’s family walk in, I decided I really wanted to get in touch with one of them. I don’t know why. None of them live in Houston and I didn’t have a number for anyone. Also, was it really my place to call?

Those of you who know me might characterize me as outgoing, outspoken, and sometimes outlandish, but actually I’m a little bit shy. I pondered calling Troy Chafin, Dr. Chafin’s son, whom I taught in the Youth Area. I don’t know why, but I felt kind of a bond with him. Maybe because we both had parents we had to live up to and we had different personalities and talents than those parents. Maybe because I just liked him.

So... I thought I might call Troy. I found his number and then I stopped. “Should I call him? Should I not? Would I be intruding? Would he even remember me?” After all, I taught him in the Youth Area when he was about 16 and I was 43. That was thirty-two years ago. “No,” I thought, “I shouldn’t call him” ... But then I did.

He really did know me. He certainly remembered me. He was very happy that I called. We talked maybe 45 minutes and I learned about his wife, his sisters, and his life. He is about to retire, and that was really a jolt to this lady. I had the opportunity to tell him what those Kenneth Chafin years meant to me and my family. How much they meant to our church as a whole. I found that they had meant as much to him, that they had been special to him, and that fact gave me so much joy. We shared contact information and I hope to do a better job at being his friend.

The point is this. I encourage you, I encourage myself, to reach out to others, to call them, to not be shy, to know there are people out there that were in our lives that influenced us, that helped shape us, or were just there for us to observe and emulate. We need to check in with them.

And so, my project turned out to be not just another unfinished project, but one that gave me unexpected joy in this troubled time. One that made me think. One that made me get out of myself. One that is spurring me on.

Many of you have been in my life for a while, so watch out, I may be calling you next.


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