Breathing hard, Charlie leaned heavily on the cane by his side and rested for a moment. His grandson, Ian, moved closer in the vague predawn light and asked again. “Grandpa, are you sure about this?”
Charlie waved Ian’s nonsense away and gruffly replied. “My boy, some things are worth the pain. This is one of those times. I just want to see the sun rise one more time from the hill.”
Then Charlie waggled those gray, bushy eyebrows in his Charlie Chaplin way. Ian couldn’t see that with the light, but he just knew. Ian shook his head with a wiry smile and tried once more to talk some sense into his grandfather. “Grandpa, I know that you think you need to…”
“Ian” Charlie interrupted. “Give it up, my boy.”
Ian let it rest and stayed close to Charlie while carefully monitoring his progress. About ten minutes later, they made their way to the top of the rise. Once there, they seated themselves on a sturdy, old, wooden bench that Charlie had left there years ago for their early morning religion.
Both were quiet as the sun rose in spectacular hues of orange and gold. Finally, in the sacred silence, Charlie laid his old, gnarled hand upon Ian’s arm and gruffly spoke “Son, you have been one of the greatest gifts the good Lord saw fit to bestow upon me, and I’m sure proud of ya. I know your Mom & Dad woulda been to.”
Ian reached and laid his hand upon his grandfather’s and quietly replied. “Grandpa, I am who I am because of you. After Mom & Dad were killed, my world fell apart and it was you who put it back together. It’s hard to imagine going off to OSU and leaving you.”
Charlie turned his hand and clutched at Ian’s. “But you’re going to boy. Tomorrow as sure as the sun rises, you’ll be leaving. I’ll miss ya like crazy, but ya gotta go. Part of being a man is finding your own way, and it’s about time ya did that.”
Ian laughed at Charlie. “Now old man, explain to me again why I have to go off and do this?”
Amused, Charlie waggled the eyebrows and elbowed Ian in the ribs. “Well ‘cause I said so and oh, don’t forget they’re paying for ya to do it there cause, you’re such a high, flouting football jock.”
Ian just smiled and let Charlie’s ribbing go by. A few minutes later, Charlie spoke again with serious intent. “Ian, I wanted to come up here before ya left…because I wanted for ya to have another moment of morning religion. I wanted ya to understand that you never hafta go looking for the good Lord. He’s always within ya. I’m telling ya this because a lot of people go out in the world wanting to fulfill all of their desires and dreams…and they lose sight of where their greatest desire should lie. They begin to think that if I got this thing or that thing… then it will fill this longing or need in my heart, body or soul. When it doesn’t…they need a bigger or better thing. Son, I am old man, but if there is one thing that I have learned, it is that God placed the desire in us to find Him and know Him. As a man, you’ll fill it the right way or the wrong way, and as a man the choice ya make is yours.”
Ian leaned forward taking his grandfather’s hand in his; he bowed his head in prayer. “Lord, I’m bound to make a mistake or two as I go forward, but in those moments, I ask that you remind me of morning religion and the honorable man who sought it from a hill filled with the morning sunrise. This thing I pray in Your Son’s name, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Charlie seconded with an Amen of his own. Both men leaned back into the bench and in silence viewed the masterpiece of God’s opening to the day.
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