The Wild Bunch

God made us for community.

In Galatians 6:2 we are encouraged to “carry each other’s burdens”, and Romans 12:15 tells us to “rejoice and mourn with each other”.

We are to “meet each other’s practical needs” (Romans 12:13 and Hebrews 13:16)  and in Acts 2:42-47 the writer, Luke, urges us to “spur one another on and meet together”.

Clearly, we are better together.

The crudely painted Wild Bunch sign now hangs proudly above the kitchen table at the farm.  Rescued from a box of junk, it’s a wonder it didn’t disappear with the trash when we cleaned out my parents’ home after Mom died in 2014.

My Mom and Daddy, along with 5 other couples, comprised The Wild Bunch. This sign, handmade by my Mom, was a marker of sorts- displayed at one of their get-togethers in a park. Mom didn’t want the other Wild Bunch members to waste any time milling about other areas of the park looking for the group – after all there were hot casseroles to set out, sweet tea to pour, and old friends to enjoy.

The group existed for a good 25 years or more, brought together by age, retirement, church membership, or neighborhood. They met about once a month for dinner, mostly at one of their homes, but occasionally they’d venture out to a restaurant- usually Dairy Queen, because let’s face it, dining choices are limited in a small town. And Daddy loved a soft-serve cone.

I’ve never known exactly how the name came about, but the only thing really Wild about this bunch was that it was happily comprised of an equal number of Baptists and Methodists. There was no drinking, no cussing, no staying out late. The men wore high-waisted khakis and short-sleeved dress shirts, while the women favored double-knit pantsuits.

For goodness sake, the Methodist minister and his wife were members.

The Wild Bunch was community. They were there for each other in good times and bad. Whether it be financial woes, illness, or death- The WB always showed up.

Sometimes, just at the wrong time.

One afternoon my Mom was working in the front flower bed when a familiar car raced down her street and screeched to an abrupt halt in her driveway. She was a little surprised to see how quickly Mr. and Mrs. WB jumped out of their car and ran to where she was working. She was equally surprised to see that Mr. WB was carrying a store-bought pie.

Typically, the Wild Bunch didn’t run.

And typically, people wouldn’t show up at Mom’s (who was the best baker in town) with a store-bought pie.

It’s just not something one would do.

Mrs. WB: “Sarah, what on earth are you doing out here?”

Mom: “Well, I’m working in the flower bed.”

(Odd, somewhat sad, glances between Mr. and Mrs.)

Mrs. WB: “Now Sarah, do you think this is the right time for that?”

Mom: “Well, Alton (my Daddy) is certainly not going to do it.”

(Gasps from both Mr. and Mrs.)

A long, weird silence…

Mr. WB: “Sarah, where is Alton?”

Mom: “He’s inside in the bed.”

(More gasps, and then slowly, some realization…)

Mr. WB: “Sarah, is Alton OK?”

Mom: “Well yes, he’s OK, just kind of lazy.”

At this point they collectively began to put two and two together.

And get something akin to four.

A poor telephone connection, a faulty hearing-aid, and a lot of people in town with the last name of Sims, had led Mr. and Mrs. WB to believe that my Daddy had gone to his reward in heaven earlier that morning. He was, in fact, just inside in the air-conditioning, taking his daily nap with the Groesbeck Journal open across his face.

It turns out they showed up about 15 years early.

But they showed.

And while Mom was appropriately appreciative of the gesture, she was also fine with the fact that Mr. WB took his store-bought pie back home.

“After all,” Mr. WildBunch said as he shuffled back to his car with the pie, “Alton’s just taking a nap.”

If you’ve found your people, cherish them.

If not, don’t stop looking.

We all need a Wild Bunch.

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