This was a good weekend. They all are. We managed to plant our seed potatoes on a Saturday morning of what turned out to be a beautiful day, and one that appeared to be long overdue when taken in the context of the cold and wet weekends that preceded it. My father and I bore the brunt of the effort, but it was neat to see my youngest son, Tyler, out there between the rows with us, meticulously dropping potatoes into the rich soil in what was a first for him. Three generations of Johnson’s out in the field, planting with timeless and shared hopes of a harvest to come.
It’s good to get back to the soil, so to speak. I believe it is an experience that all of our modern conveniences have caused us to forget over time, and something that we may find ourselves never truly able to replace once it is gone. You can buy potatoes at Wal-Mart; the prices there are cheap enough and the labor is much less intensive. But still…
Maybe it’s just me; I have a tendency to wax nostalgically at planting time. As I huffed and puffed while burying the potatoes in my work shoes, I recalled a simpler time in life when I would have done so in bare feet, enjoying the feel of the cool earth beneath my soles as I performed the task. These days of advancing age remind me that I am not ‘young’ anymore, and I can be susceptible to colds and a sore throat for performing that exact same feat, no pun intended.
I wonder if Tyler will ‘get it’. I wonder if he will remember it when he gets older. His days are filled with X-box simulations and the Internet, while at that same age I had horses and pine-cone wars to keep me entertained. My brother and I climbed trees just to see if we could, and hunted snakes with b-b guns. Things change; I get that, so don’t lecture me.
I was further reminded of how things change yesterday morning as I made my way down the road and across the creek to attend church. Not as many people feel the need for church anymore, yet when I was young it was more than expected, it was a requirement. As an engineer, I can do the math. Attendance has dwindled significantly from what it was back in the day. That’s akin to saying the Himalayas are significantly higher than the Appalachians, I guess. The difference is not in hundreds, but in thousands of feet.
Again, things change. Back then we were closer to the soil, and closer to God. We depended on each other and trusted in the Lord. When times were rough, we hardly noticed, as it seemed to always be that way. As a result, maybe, just maybe our expectations were a little bit lower than they are by today’s standards. Yet at the same time we were always looking ahead, even back then, toward a future that was pregnant with possibilities merely waiting to happen for us.
We reached that future. We achieved those goals. I have the house, swimming pool, and 4x4 pickup truck to prove it. But somewhere along the way, something happened. Things didn’t make sense anymore. Life became a struggle not to survive, but to excel and to exceed, to get and consume - to work harder and to dream even bigger dreams. We (I) forgot the soil and the simple life from my youth, replacing it with plastic (literally in my case) and designer clothing.
What do you do when you reach for the stars, and find they aren’t readily attainable? What if you climb the ladder only to learn once you've reached the top that it’s against the wrong building? Why think outside of the box if the answers are actually in the box? What can you do when you realize you are sincerely tired of the charade that a materialistic life has become, but are too entrapped either by debt or by work ethic to stop?
“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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
We can drop the burdens that have been placed on us by society and by our own expectations squarely at Jesus’ feet. His burden is easy and His yoke is much lighter in comparison. It is a promise He gives to his children, and the offer is open each and every day to us. But to actually accept the offer is still up to us. I’ll have to warn you, though, an acceptance of His offer will get you back to your roots. And that’s OK, the soil is really not so bad there.