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Topic: Happy (07/12/07)
By joe hodson
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In the distance, the fence at the end of the field, the tin roof of a barn, and a small white house waved in the heat. He thought of his wife preparing the meal in the kitchen of the small white house. He imagined the quiet beauty of her face and how it would flush from the heat of the oven.
The farmer had barely eaten any breakfast that morning, and he still wasn’t hungry. The heat and his despairing thoughts had ruined his appetite. Mealtime called for a mealtime prayer, and sadly, that meant to him another prayer unheard or unanswered.
His wife insisted that they keep praying. She prayed constantly about everything. He stuck mostly to the “Big Three” – bless the food, bring us rain, and the impossible third request, which he couldn’t let himself dwell on right now.
The farmer wiped his brow and the back of his neck with a handkerchief, but the sweat came right back. The straw hat he wore was pulling apart at the fold in the top, and putting his finger in the hole, he thought that it might be time to buy a new one.
His mind fell silently into financial worry as he watched a dirt-colored toad hop along the cracks in the earth beside his boot. Keeping his foot still, he let the toad go on, and in the end, it found a hole to go down.
In the distance, a slender figure came out the screen door of the small white house. She waved her arms in the air at the farmer. This meant the meal was ready. He squinted his eyes and then waved back to let her know he’d seen her.
The hard soles of the farmer’s boots crushed the dirt clods as he crossed over the rows of soybeans. At the edge of the field, his old pick-up stood among some dusty weeds. It was an old Ford, an ’87, but there were little miles on it. It was used mainly for hauling supplies back-and-forth between the barn and field.
The windows were up to keep the bugs out, so the air inside the Ford was near-suffocating. The farmer quickly rolled down the driver-side window to let some air in to cool the hot seats. The key in the ignition made a buzzing sound, and then the motor turned over once or twice before firing up.
He backed out slowly past the ditch and onto the gravel road that led to his house, where his wife waited with the food ready. The Ford rumbled on and a nice breeze came through the windows. The flash of sun that pierced his windshield had let up suddenly, and now the farmer noticed some gray clouds forming out of the West.
The sky was a mix of clouds and sun, and as the clouds grew greater, the sun burned brighter. It was as if the sky was either confused or indifferent; not knowing or caring that the wells and fields were drying up, or that the people on land had had all they could stand of the confounded drought. Finally, the gray clouds blocked out the sun. A drop of water smacked against the windshield of the Ford. Then another!
The gravel popped under the wheels of the Ford as it pulled up to the house. It was pouring down rain now. The wet earth seemed richer and kinder, and the Lord suddenly felt closer.
The farmer jumped out of the Ford holding his hat yelling, “It’s raining! It’s raining!” and ran toward his wife who stood in the yard, her hair all wet and falling down. She was looking up, smiling and holding her palms out to feel the rain.
“It’s raining!” the farmer shouted again. Silently in the rain, she watched him come toward her. Her face glowed like a song, and the new life in her eyes sparkled with a secret that seemed to say, I have something wonderful to tell you.
“What is it?” the farmer asked her. He knew there was something more than the rain.
“How? The doctor said we couldn’t…”
At this her eyes and smile grew even more excited. “I guess the Lord said we could!”
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