Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Lesson

     My Dad used to give us a lot of chores to do.  Picking apples perched on extension ladders, pulling weeds, picking rocks, shoveling snow, butchering chickens, stacking wood, and taking out the compost.  That is only the short list.  We did not like it.  We bulked, we sulked, we dawdled and drug our feet with the dramatic expertise only a child can display in the face of good old-fashioned work.  For me, there was nothing more dreaded than the stomach churning threat of forced time in the corn field picking rocks or pulling weeds.  That hung over my head all summer, heavier than the oppressive cloud of mid-August humidity.  Banished to the buzzing heat in worn-out sneakers and mismatched clothes from some hand-me-down bag, I would come up with a lengthy list of fun things I could be doing, while convincing myself I was the only girl in the world, except my sister, stuck in a field doing the two-handed yank of quackgrass and topping dandelions that were bound to haunt me with their regular reappearance forever.   There was no getting out of it.  Weed pulling and rock picking were my parent's favorite method of diffusing negative attitudes and yanking out rebellion by the roots.  

     As a child I felt the sting of punishment, but what I didn't see was that God was also using those moments to actively teach me deeper life lessons.  The ones He knew I would need for the rest of my life.  Those sweltering summer days in the corn field clanking stones into an old backhoe bucket or finger-numbing mornings bracing myself and shovel against drifted banks of snow were part of my physical preparation for the challenges and obstacles of life.  Training my body, mind, and heart to lay down physical connections to my soul so I would have a infrastructure of active coping mechanisms when things around me appeared out of whack. 

     My Dad never caved to murmured complaints or allowed us to drag our sneakers in defiance on the gravelly driveway.  He appreciated the value of simple labor when it came to developing perseverance, curbing fear, and clearing room for new growth.  He made certain that the seeds were planted in our minds and hearts even if the shoots of that did not take off until years later.  Like my Dad, I think God does the same thing.  He points us in the right direction, and goes about setting us to certain tasks designed to teach us.  He challenges us to stretch and grow and asks us to take on simple tasks we sometimes find meaningless and repetitive. As adults we can find ourselves guilty of reverting to dragging our feet and balking at what our Heavenly Father sets us to.  However, if we get our bodies committed to the tried and true method of simple physical labor we can discover our minds and hearts will follow suit. As an adult, I love pulling weeds.  There is nothing more satisfactorily simple than a vigorous session of yank and pull while talking to God about whatever negativity is trying to lodge itself inside me.  The physical act of pulling and tugging helps aligns my mind to take over easing it out of my heart. 

     I am so thankful for the lessons God taught me through my parents and life on a small farm.  As a parent I am amazed at how many simple opportunities God gives us to teach our children about Him and coping with life.  Some of those lessons require stretching out of our comfort zone and are hidden from view.  However, if we look back at our own childhoods, we can find lessons designed by Him to mirror the challenges encountered in everyday life.  Simple tasks like weed pulling, shoveling snow, washing dishes, sweeping, and gardening can be turned into life lessons for our children to carry through their walk with Him.  They are tried and true methods of teaching them active, physical ways to connect to God with heart and mind while working out the internal kinks that are bound to cramp things up along the way.  Let us not neglect to teach our children some simple ways to remove obstacles, listen, alter their perspectives, and count their blessings.

The Lesson

I told you to climb.
Did you catch sight of it?
Clenching the ladder
With fear-narrowed eyes
I set it for you
At the very end of the branch
Under dense cover
So fingertip faith
Learned to hold tightly
Before grasping the prize.

I sent you for it.
Were you able to find it?
Chewing stranded hair
As spinning wheels jammed
I placed it there
On the other side of the vice
Next to the grinder
So developing minds 
Learned to carefully listen
Before picking up the hammer.

I made you go out.
Could you finish the task?
Huffing mumbled clouds
Against drifted icy banks
I sent them for you 
Along the rutted trail
Down the bank
So stubborn hearts 
Learned how to dig out
Before carving new paths.

I pointed you to them.
Were you able to pull?
Squatting in the dirt
With rising summer-baked ire
I put them there for you
In between tender shoots
Strangling vital life
So rooted hurt
Learned to clear obstacles
Before harvesting the fruit.

I told you to do it.
Could you finish the task?
Brushing splintery debris
With achingly numbed fingers
I dumped it there for you
On the icy concrete slab
Amidst dismal pelting sleet
So bound hardening hearts
Learned to thaw and melt
Before pouring out love.

I called you to it.
Did you find them?
Reaching into smarting spaces
Swiping hands across stained cheeks
I grew them for you.
Scattered in tangled brambles
Hidden from view
So busy hands
Learned to alter perspectives
Before counting their blessings.

Shaunda M. Eck

1 comment:

  1. AMAZING!! As usual.... u have such a talent and gift. you are an AMAZING and STRONG PERSON! You see the good in all things and I am blessed to be your Best Friend and to read these beautiful works of yours!