Faith column: Like feathers in the wind

One of my favorite stories to use when talking about the dangers of rumors just doesn’t work with foam pillows.


WORTHINGTON — Quite frequently on social media such as Facebook someone will share a meme about young people not being able to drive a manual transmission, write in cursive, use a rotary telephone, or some other once familiar task or item that is no longer common.

I always get a chuckle about it because growing up, I remember hearing comments about young kids don’t know how to do …(fill in the blank). It seems that relentless march of time and change means every generation loses some things and gains others.

I thought about those memes as an old John Denver song ran through my head. Grandma’s Feather Bed is one of those fun little songs I learned once upon a time and it will start running through my mind almost randomly. I couldn’t help but wonder how many people half my age might know what a feather tick is.

It is, I suspect, a sign of the time that we don’t hear or see about feather mattresses, feather pillows, or even down-filled coats and vests. They have been replaced by various foam and fibers such as Thinsulate.

It is unfortunate to lose that imagery because one of my favorite stories to use when talking about the dangers of rumors just doesn’t work with foam pillows.


A man who always wanted to know everything — and to show off how much he knew about what everybody in town was doing — realized people wouldn’t talk to him. They would turn and walk away when they saw him coming near.

It was especially hard for him when a couple of long-time friends got angry with him one day. When he tried to ask about what made them so angry, all they said was, “Quit spreading rumors.”

The man, wanting to figure out how to repair the relationship, found the town’s pastor having coffee with some townspeople. He asked the pastor what he could do to restore his friendships. The pastor looked at the man closely and said, “I will help you figure out how to restore your friendships, but first I have a task for you. Take a feather pillow, remove the feathers from it and place one on the front step of each house in town. Then come find me.”

The man quickly went home and grabbed a feather pillow from his bed and proceeded to march around town, putting a feather on the front step of each house. Several hours later, he completed his task and went to find the pastor. The pastor looked up as the man entered the coffee shop and said, “I have completed the task you gave me. I placed a feather on the front step of each house in town.”

“Very good,” said the pastor. “Now you need to go and pick them up.”

“What?” the man replied. “That’s impossible. The wind has scattered them far and wide. I’lll never find them all.”

“Exactly,” said the pastor. “And so it is with rumors. Once they have left your mouth there is no chance of stopping them from spreading. To restore your friendships, you must first stop spreading the rumors and then you must seek to make amends. And as you do, remember the feathers you have spread today.

“May your feathers be safely gathered in Grandma’s feather bed and not scattered on the doorsteps of your friends and neighbors; and may God keep you safe in his arms of love.”


Galen Smith is pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Worthington.

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