Sunday, April 26, 2009

Straight Lines

Have you ever taken a ride out in country and looked at the straight rows of crops and marveled at just how perfectly spaced they are? Yeah, me neither. At least until about 20 years ago. That's when I married Nancy and thereby married into a family of farmers. So I started noticing things like straight even rows -- especially when I watched them plow or plant or harvest.

Still, I didn't think much about how they did it. Until I started taking care of the land at Ploughshares when began our stewardship here about 5 years ago. Trying to mow in straight lines so as not to mow down the trees we planted (especially since many were 6" seedlings and almost invisible from tractor seat height) was difficult.

There must be some secret to it, I figured. And here's what I've discovered -- yes, there are a variety of techniques for creating straight rows -- including giant planters equipped with GPS. But I've also come to realize that none of them seem to work for me (well, I haven't tried putting GPS on my golf cart with it's pull behind sprayer!). I can't go straight to save my life.

Today, as I sit and look at my office window, I can see my tracks through the prairie where I was out spraying for thistles. The first two rows look pretty straight -- I must have gotten off to a good start. And then the cart tracks start to wiggle and crisscross even. Yikes! I knew I was getting off track (though I didn't know how far off until I looked out of my second floor office) so I decided to go back to my tried, if not completely true method, of picking a point on the horizon and steering the golf cart toward it. The rows after I remembered to do that are somewhat less wavy than those before. Not perfectly straight mind you, but somewhat less wavy.

As I was steering toward my point horizon, I began to think (which is probably how the other lines got too wavy -- thinking too much and paying too little attention to driving) how similar this was to how I now try to live out my faith life. For many years, I looked down at where I was going -- trying to avoid that or hoping to keep in the right track or... Well, you get the idea. And my life, like most lives, was pretty wavy, bumpy. And I was dissatisfied with the results.

Now, with what little wisdom I've gained with age, I have quit watching the row immediately below me and have begun focusing on the horizon -- in this case the love and care of God. I try (and don't always succeed) to keep my spiritual vision up and out -- looking to God.

My life's rows are still wavy. But I think they're less so when I remember to steer this way. I find myself relaxing into the tasks before me more, too, instead of worrying whether or not they are perfectly done. I notice life around me and the scenery that surrounds me.

Now, if I can just remember to always keep my eyes on God.

-- Brent

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