My earliest memories of our Wisconsin farm preserved little glimpses shrunk down to fit my size: fuzzy yellow chicks peeping in my palm; warm, wet-nosed calves learning to walk, and shut-eyed kittens hiding in hay lofts. I remember a flat, faded wagon too big to climb and a green tractor too dangerous to ride, but they were part of Dad’s world, not mine. I was a child and occupied the center of a child’s small world; safe, close, and untroubled.
One spring morning, all that changed. As Dad pulled on his dusty red cap, he told me to put on my overalls and an old shirt. “You’re coming with me today, son.” Minutes later, in the shed, I stood next to him facing a stack of fifty-pound bags taller than I was. He slit one open and filled his hand with hard, gold kernels. “These are seeds, and today we have to plant them.”
He loaded the planter from sacks he held effortlessly on his shoulders. When seeds escaped, I scooped them up and he lifted me so I could add them to the funnel. I watched as he maneuvered the planter in newly turned dark soil, discs digging three long furrows into which the yellow seeds dropped one by one. Near the end of the day, when the bags lay empty, he helped me down.
“Pick up the rest of these fallen seeds,” he said. “We’ll do these by hand.” In the farthest corner of the last field, he walked neat, straight rows, poking holes in the dirt with his finger. I followed behind him, dropping careful kernels into each one. Later, in the house, as he hung up his cap, he said, “Thanks for your help, son.”
Every day that spring, we walked out to the field. We discovered together the first pale green leaves, sprung up in perfect pairs in a single night, and day after day, inspected their progress, some days cultivating to keep the weeds down. The stalks grew tall and fast. Some summer afternoons, I lay down beneath the sunny rows and stared unblinking at them, sure I could witness their act of growing. In a month, they were taller than I was. In two, as tall as Dad. Ears formed and sprouted waxen hair.
“Is it done yet?”
“Not yet, son.”
The hair turned brown and the plants stiffened. The noise wind made in their leaves changed from rushing water to a dry rustle. In October, stalks and all, they turned brown.
“Now, it’s time,” Dad said. He hooked the tractor up to the picker, made room for me next to him on the high seat, and put both my hands on the steering wheel. “Hold on tight. You have to drive.”
We moved slowly down the rows. Dad carefully pulled the levers and, with great tearing and pounding, perfect ears of corn dropped into the wagon behind. Later, they thundered down to fill yawning silos. That evening, our storehouses full, he led me home.
“Why did I have to help, Dad?”
“Because you’re my son, and it’s what we do.”
Some years passed, and many more harvests, before I understood that I never needed to help Dad at all. He could more easily have brought in that corn himself. All of it; the planting, the growing, the cultivating, and the harvesting, all belonged to him. When he asked for my help, I actually received from him; his time, a share in his life’s work, and a glimpse of his heart. My dad and I worked together simply because he wanted to share the joy of it and, in so doing, taught me to love. The harvest is his and I am his son.
“Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matt 9:38
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be right now. CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.