The rain fell in large comforting drops. It had been a sultry afternoon in our little town of Collettsville. My clothes were soaked through with sweat, so the coolness of the precipitation was appreciated. The rain had stopped my work on the land and allowed me the opportunity to run to the store for fuel for the tractor. Closing the door of my truck, I turned to walk inside to prepay. The first thing that caught my eye was the pair of dogs lying on the porch, one reclining against the wall and the other reposing peacefully upon the bench. Earlier that morning when I passed, they were on the opposite end of the store, sleeping under the shade of the shelter. People passed, coming and going from within the store at an almost constant rate, yet the two seemed none the more bothered. Neither beast stirred from their sleep. Their carefree manner seemed so inviting; it made you almost want to join them.
The first thing that came to mind were the scenes from the Beverly Hillbillies when Jed Clampett would be sitting out in front of the mansion whittling on a stick, while Duke, the old bloodhound would be sleeping nearby. All that was missing was Jed and his carving knife. Then again, other than the fact that the community was in constant motion, there actually plenty of “Jeds” around, they just didn’t have time to stop and sit on this particular day. If one were to pause long enough to take heed, they might see logging trucks roaring past one minute, a landscaping crew the next, or perhaps a caravan of motorcycle riders heading for the winding roads nearby. Yet, amongst all the buzz of the daily grind in the valley, there was also a sense of peace and serenity. Call it the aura of the John’s River that flowed peacefully behind the store, call it the sweetness of the pure mountain air, but it was something that seemed to float over the area no matter the day or time.
One might think of this as a little slice of heaven, where the cool waters flow and the people all say “Howdy,” but it is much more. The history portrays devastation, death, and mourning, but through it all, the hearty mountain people here have survived. The scripture, “My Grace is sufficient for you, we find strength in Him in our weakness,” comes to mind in such moments. Their memories tell of stories of struggle and survival. They seldom shrink from any danger, for their spirits are embodied in the ancient tones of those distant lands from which they traveled centuries before. A hearty breed of people that conquered many lands beyond their own, they now have settled into lives that are more complacent than any time before in their history. Yet, occasionally there are tales that rival those deeds of old.
Today we take for granted so many things.
Ms. Zelma and Ms. Clara shared with me this morning of their Grandmother who was a midwife dating back to the early part of the 20th century. She was so important to the area that she was the only person with a car. She would haul people down pig paths crossed with deep ruts of wagon wheels, car bouncing wildly, while she raced to the next person or persons in need. Ms. Zelma recalled her car doors encompassed both the front and back seats. “Huge doors no child could handle,” she reminisced. Her grandmother was one of the last “Mountain Doctors,” as Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies might say. It was her knowledge of herbs, natural cures, and the “Old Ways,” that made her a true M.D. Today, so much of that past has been forgotten, erased by our failure to communicate that invaluable wealth of information from one generation to the next. So, we rely on pharmaceuticals, food industries, and many other man-made, processed entities we either consume or take to supplement what the Lord hath given. All the while, cases of cancers and heart disease continue to rise to new heights.
In the end, we don’t take what the Lord hath provided, because of what was taken for granted; so much the irony of it all.
If we would only live as God had intended.
Our society’s pace is dictated by the world in which we live, creating little time for the “Old Ways.” We find it easier to justify buying the can of beans rather than canning our own. Meanwhile, the meat we consume has been pumped full of growth hormones, and additives to make it more appealing and sellable in the marketplace. In the old days, the animals would be processed in community hog killings, for example, not only providing the nutrients of protein to live on, but also keeping the purity of the food as it had been intended from the beginning. But not just the food was preserved, so were the ways of the people by coming together as a community. In those gatherings, whether they were snapping beans, putting up hay, or killing hogs, the talked while they worked. There the communication carried on, and in that way, those cures and tales of old would be passed from one generation to the next. Later, in the slower seasons, they would be retold around the winter fireplaces while their bellies would be filled with the foodstuffs that had been prepared in the easy, summer days. When they read from “The Book,” from the faint glow of the lamp light or wood fire, the words would have more significance because the era in which they lived more closely matched those of Biblical times, as God had meant it to be.
If only we’d take the time to slow down and sit for a spell. Like those dogs, let us find ourselves just soaking in the moment. Come join me and sit for spell on a porch somewhere.
“Yep, the rain is good.”
“We been having some goodins’”
“Toad stranglers yesterdee”
“Yep, river come up a bit”
“Let sleeping dogs lie,” they say, and so we will, but not for long.
We must awaken the sleeping fold.
There is much to testify for in this world, and the fields are ready for harvest.
Go yea unto all nations and make disciples for Christ, for this is our commission.
Thanks be to God.