This picture was taken when I was about 15 years old. I'm the kid looking down at the ground, standing next to one of our fields on our farm in Southern Indiana. My grandfather took this photo. Funny how some days just seem to stay in your memory.
Life on our farm never seemed to be "easy." There was always "something" that needed to be done. After a storm, I knew that I would be the one who would need to go and walk the entire fence line to look for any damage, or the branch that may have fallen and landed on the fence, grounding the electric line that surrounded most of the property to ensure that our cattle would not get out. After a few years of having this job, I actually got to the point that I enjoyed walking the line. I learned that I could go off, work at my on pace, often going just beyond our property where falls from a stream would cool me off on a hot summer day.
In the springtime, I can remember that we would turn out our cattle, including new calves that had been born during the late winter months. I loved watching as they discovered the fresh green grass, and dance, kicking their hooves up as the meadow greeted them.
While I don't talk about it much, my stepfather was a pretty abusive man. I'm not sure if it was the pressure of raising five children in a blended family, trying to take care of a farm, while driving fifty miles each day to work as a foreman in a factory, or being married to my mother who was in the beginning of the alcoholism that would direct her life up until this past year when a health crisis caused her to become sober for the first time in over 40 years.
As an adult, I have spent years of my life "processing," so much of what occurred during those years. There has been a lot of grace and mercy, much of what I still cannot comprehend, that has allowed those years to become part of the memories that I can talk and write openly about.
But I will admit, while living in those years, much of the time when I walked that fence line, all I could think about was what life would be like beyond those fields. I did a lot of soul-searching and praying on those walks, often asking myself, what I needed to do to change so that I wouldn't make things worse at home. Sometimes the prayers I lifted were for understanding. Sometimes for God to change everything. Sometimes they were raised just simply to talk to someone I thought would listen.
Funny how forty five years later I look at this picture and see the green field in my mind and think of it as the quiet meadow that the Psalmist shares of in the 23rd Psalm. I think of how God takes places of uncertainty for us and provides a place of safety. Even in the eye of the storm, there can be peace.
I'm not sure what it is about our human nature that draws us to look beyond. As I sit with patients as they are dying, so often I watch as they stare "beyond," and sometimes they will "reach" for what I cannot see. Our spirit knows that we are created to live beyond. Jesus tells the disciples, "I go to prepare a place for you..."
I'm grateful to know that beyond the field and this life, God has a place for us all.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2022 "Stay In God's Grip"
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.