The other day I was saddened to hear a dear friend who had been struggling with health issues had passed away. I had been out of town and for some reason had not heard about it, but her funeral had already taken place and I was asking about her husband. He has been a dear friend of mine also and a delight to my heart.
I got his number and called him as soon as I could get to the phone. It was his cell phone, but he didn’t answer. Someone else did. It was a young woman’s voice, and I was surprised at that. It was his granddaughter who was there helping him with things that he needed to be doing following his mate’s death. I knew his granddaughter also and was so delighted to be able to talk with her about her grandmother and thank her for what she was doing for her granddad.
I asked her, “Is he there where I could talk to him?” She said, “No, he is with some of his friends, the Wrinkled Roosters.” I asked, “The what?” She pronounced it a little slower, “The Wrinkled Roosters.” “Really,” I said. “Yes, they’re a group of men, most of them older, who meet almost every day and drink coffee and talk and enjoy one another’s company. They call themselves the Wrinkled Roosters. She went on to expound on the group’s name and said, “At one time, they had one lady that met with them. They were called the Wrinkled Roosters and One Fluffy Hen. She has passed away and so it’s nothing but the Wrinkled Roosters left.”
As I visited with the granddaughter, I thought she might be going to pick him up soon. I asked her what time they got through and would she be picking him up from the meeting. She said, “Oh, no, he drives himself. He’s 91 and going strong.” He and his sweet mate had been married for 68 years. Now, he is facing life alone except for his precious family that wants to fill in all the gaps they can to help him day by day. The granddaughter is one of those precious helpers.
“What time do you think the Roosters will get through crowing and he’ll be back?” She said, “Well, it’s hard to say because the meetings aren’t timed. They drink coffee and talk until they run out of things to talk about or need to get on with something else.” I said, “I’ll call him back this afternoon.” We finished our conversation and I hung up with this vivid image in my mind of a group of guys who have probably known each other a long time, who have enjoyed life and weathered many a storm, and are now in a more relaxed frame of life getting together and visiting. Wrinkled Roosters.
A few hours passed and I called him back. Sure enough, he immediately answered. I asked if this was the Number One Rooster. He said, “No, I’m not the Number One, but I’m one of the older ones.” I expressed my sympathy to him in the loss of his companion, and we walked through her last months and years to her home going. Just the two of us celebrated that together for a while. Then I asked him about this group that he gets together with. I was interested in what you have to do to become a part of the group. What are the requirements? He said, “Oh, there are no requirements at all.” I said, “There’s no age requirements?” “No, we’ve got people in their sixties and up. There’s no particular philosophy or doctrine, skill set, or financial requirements. Mainly, you just have to show up and enjoy.” Mostly it involved showing up and talking about whatever comes to your mind and enjoy the company of the folks around. There are no Medicare requirements or debonair requirements or millionaire requirements, but just be there and be glad to be there. He went on talking about this wonderful cluster of men. I asked him how many there were and he said, “Some days there will be 5, 6, 7, 8, 10. Other days there might be 15-20 that show up.” As he talked about them, I began to realize it wasn’t just a group of older guys who’ve seen a lot of life and probably could interject their opinion about life today. These were some fine men, community men, church men, good men, solid men, caring men, who just stayed in touch day by day. He went on to expound on the way that group of guys supported him through the loss of his wife. “They brought enough chicken to feed the whole county,” he said. They shared in his good times and in the difficult times.
I couldn’t get a word in edgewise so I just let the words flow in my mind as I thought it is not unlike the Scripture clearly tells us to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). That’s what they had been doing with him. As we caught up on some other members of the family, his family, he shared with me about some of the difficulties that some of his family had faced and weathered with the love and the support of folks like the Roosters and folks in churches and friends.
I was so interested in the Wrinkled Roosters, not because I’m eligible to be a part of them but because I just like the spirit with which they cared for each other and seemed to care about the community and the needs in people’s lives. I asked if I happened to be around some morning, “Can I come and just sit in on the gathering and drink some coffee with y’all?” “Absolutely,” he said. “Man, you would enjoy it and they would enjoy you.” I think that’s true. I’m confident without question that I would enjoy them. He said, “If you get anywhere near here some morning, just come on by.”
I’ve never been to the Roosters’ meeting but I will tell you this, that just listening to one of their group talk about them in such positive, glowing terms and how they approach life and their need to turn to God for help and how God uses one after another of them to take care of the needs in each other’s lives, I thought about that looks strangely like what the Lord Himself wanted to do in our midst. He called it His church. We desperately need more and more of those gatherings that are attractive to people who hear about it, like me. That if you come and share your life with them, they want to help you as you face life.
For us, above all, we can look to God together and find our needs met, our challenges undergirded, and the God of heaven sharing His joy and life with us in the midst of the folks around us. What a marvelous thing. I hesitated to even write about this because in today’s world with people apparently looking for every little creative, fascinating term to call a new church somebody will probably get a group together and call it the Wrinkled Roosters Baptist Church. I don’t think they’ll want to call it the Wrinkled Roosters and Some Fluffy Hens Baptist Church or they will probably get in some big trouble, but the spirit with which they live, the relationships they have, the kind of help afforded one another is commendable by the Lord Himself. To the group of folks who were around Jesus, He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29).
He certainly did that with the people who gathered around Him and He continues to do it till this day. May God bless you to have a group of folks around you that whatever you call them, the Blessed Baptist Church or the Wrinkled Roosters Redemptive Crowing Session, may the blessings of heaven be upon you.
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The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Jim Futral