“Now, now…,” my grandma Cora would say as a prelude to comfort or warning. When I was 4 and another child hurt me, my gentle grandmother wiped my bloody chin and held me on her lap, saying, “Now, now, chile.”
Grandma’s “now, now” could serve as a shoehorn for other words: “Y’all be sweet to each other” or “You just set here for a spell.” Sometimes her “now, now” would preface a scripture passage read aloud.
Ironically, for most of her lifetime, Grandma heard more “not now” than “now.” Born in the 1890s, she grew up in the southern U.S. where she could not attend the same schools, visit the same hospitals, stay overnight in hotels, sit up front in buses and trains, sit down in most restaurants or drink from the same water fountains as a white person. The discrimination she experienced was legal.
My grandma lived through the 1918 flu pandemic, Jim Crow, and so much more. Although the “not now” still continues in many ways today, she would have been amazed to see how many people of all ethnicities are now aware and advocating for more abundant life for all of God’s creation.
This message is an excerpt from “Welcome: Now, Now” by Elizabeth Hunter in the October 2020 issue of Gather magazine. Today the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ends, and we observe the Conversion of Paul.