Friday, January 8, 2010


A couple of farmers ventured out of the Palouse yesterday.  My brother-in-law and his brother took a road trip up to our neck of the woods.  There was a John Deere tractor sitting on a lot in Lynden that had their name written all over it.  Or so they suspected.  And since all the other tractors they've been checking out (online, mostly) have been much farther away--like Colorado and points further east--they hopped in their car and drove across the state then turned north toward us.  (Ok, for you grammar types, I just checked out the difference between farther and further, and apparently, in contrast to what Finding Forrester would have us believe, they are now considered synomyns, so keep using which ever you choose, or mix them up as I just did!)  The salesperson waited around for them, likely assuming--and rightly so--that they wouldn't have gone to all the trouble of taking themselves off their land and this far afield if they weren't serious buyers!  And I'm pretty sure he didn't have trouble identifying them when they stepped out of their Chevy Trail-Blazer and onto his lot, because we saw them a couple hours later and they were practically identical twins in their plaid flannel shirts and jeans, not to mention their 'aw shucks' politeness.

Yep, they bunked here last night.  Walked through our front door about a couple hours after my brother-in-law called us from the tractor equipment lot.  That lot, by our reckoning, is about thirty minutes away from our house.  But these boys, and I use that term affectionately, don't get into the 'big city' much, especially one they don't know well--or at all.  And my directions must have been a little confusing, because they ended up bewildered and in downtown, having turned the wrong direction off the freeway.  Then they back and forth on the major street down the hill from our house.  Yep, I reckon I'm just so used to getting here, I don't pay enough attention to landmarks that would help strangers in our strange urban landscape.  These farmers are used to long distances between roads, and I was talking merely blocks.  That threw them off a bit.  And--and now we know this--some of the street signs are obscured by trees and the like.  Trees.  Trees aren't indigenous to the Palouse.  Grass, and only grass, grew on those tall hills without someone coming along and planting it.

But finally, we told them to hole up at the 7-11 and Beve went down and rescued them.  We gave them a nice meal (E was wishing they'd stay an extra few days just because her mother actually cooked a decent meal, seeing how we had company and all), a bit of conversation (we had to watch the national championship, after all, and wasn't that a terrible thing, seeing Colt McCoy go down during his first drive), and  before they hit the road for home early this morning.  By the way, we put my brother-in-law in SK's room, complete with netting over her bed.  I'm hoping he slept like a pretty-pretty-princess.

They're the reason I'm 'ah shucking' and 'I reckon'-ing this morning.  Folks where I come from always think there aren't strong accents in our parts, but they're dead wrong.  Put a bunch of farmers together, and you hear drawls as long and true as in any Hollywood western.  I don't notice it much when I'm just talkin' to my brother-in-law, but with his brother sitting right next to him, shoot, it's thick and and broad, I'm here to tell you.  While B was talking to his wife last night (otherwise known as my little sister, RE), I asked his brother whether he drinks coffee.  "I like a good cup now and then," he told me. "But I pride myself in bein' calm and not gettin' much done. That coffee pops me up like a popcorn machine." 

But that's not really my point, as entertaining as listening to them is (I've always wanted an accent, really I have.  And Beve told SK the only thing he wants her to bring him back from London is a British accent!).  What I'm really thinking about this morning is how easy it is to get lost in this world.  Especially if we're away from our homeplace. Especially without landmarks to point the way.  We all need them, yet for some reason, it's easy to stumble through life, just hoping something shows up that helps. But the truth is, these things rarely just show up.  In Deuteronomy 6, the Israelites are told, "Impress [these commandments] on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."

Jews, even today, have portions of theTorah (Deuteronomy 6: 4-9, which is called the shema; and Deuteronomy 11: 13-21, the veheya) written in pieces of parchment set inside a protective case, called a Mezuzah, mounted beside their doors.  I've long wanted a Mezuzah for our house, as a reminder to keep Him holy and of primary focus in my life and in our home.  It's a set of directions, the Mezuzah is, it seems to me.  A reminder to watch for Him within my home and as I leave it.  To carry Him with me so that I know the way in which to go.

We need these directions.  It's ridiculous to think we can live without them, that we can find our way without being intimately acquainted with the Way...the Way, the Truth and the Life. And we have a pretty complete map right at our fingertips, available in leather, hardback and paperback.  Online and read aloud on CD.  In fact, in every form imaginable, we have this map.  This holy, precious map.  And yet.  And yet, we often go off without consulting it.  We stumble through our days, our lives, without availing ourselves of the very thing that will make life navigable.  And then we're surprised when we lose our way.  Or worse, we blame God for abandoning us.  And all the while, it's right there--He's right there--waiting to give us directions.

P.S. They bought the tractor.

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