Papa (paw’paw’) is my closest grandparent. From my earliest years even I notice he treats me like the lost dauphin. When I stay with him, I get whatever I want, which is, as it turns out, mostly just to stay with him. Some of Papa’s edges are not just rough but gone. He has a glass eye, which he takes out to entertain me and the best friend who often accompanies me on my stays. He smokes and chews, so sallowed by both that we are not tempted when he offers us the latter. As far as I know, his knowledge is bounded by the domain in which he hunts quail and dove, grinds the sausage from his hogs, drives the school bus, and tends to the tiny municipality’s water supply.
About a decade before his passing, I am a 17-year-old devout Reagan campaigner when Papa mystifies me on his back porch, describing how Roosevelt’s interventions saved them during the Great Depression, and why he will vote as a Democrat for as long as he lives. He does not change my mind about the politics, partially because I am simply stunned that in his 6-plus decades he has developed any opinion at all about matters to which I have given my attention assiduously for practically all of my 6 years since Nixon’s resignation. But he does change my mind about people.
The Proverb declares a house is built by wisdom and established by understanding, then goes on to say (changing the metaphor from construction to war) that success is found in an abundance of counselors (Proverbs 24:3,6).
On Papa’s back porch I realize for the first time that every person we meet is filled with knowledge and experience, ideas and perspectives beyond what they reveal or we have in ourselves. While we will not adopt and should not agree with every opinion—some run contrary even to one another—we can learn something from each. Listen, learn, then decide.
To co-opt the expression, “still waters run deep”: finding an abundance of counselors is no more difficult than noticing the river of often unexpressed thoughts flowing past us every day.
To a week drawing deeper from each person God diverts to cross our path.