Those were idyllic days: While I loved school, I loved summer more! Mama and I would take our daily walks in the Montana woods, picking and eating wild strawberries, talking, unconscious of time. We saw deer and grouse, blue birds and jays, crows and rabbits. She talked of Jesus’ love and the blessing of our salvation; and I listened.
Our walks started up our drive, down the gravel road to Bierwagen’s drive, up into the woods where there were no fences but many grassy logging roads from antiquity, I fancied. We walked on those old roads until we came back out to the main road, then back home to our house. There I played cars in the small dirt pile outside our house, wishing for greater hills, or roamed the countryside in search of crows to shoot, or improved my fort in the woods behind the house. Sometimes I even worked on my chores: splitting kindling wood so Daddy could build a fire.
Mama was nearly 50. Somehow she is stuck there, lodged in time at half a century. Isn’t it strange how our minds do that? Our parents are always one age; our children never grow up; we are our favorite age in perpetuity. In her early nineties, Mama told me: “I don’t know how my body got so old; I’m not!”
Then suddenly, at 46 I decided to go back to school to prepare for my future! Our youngest child was born, then we left for school. Daddy died shortly after our moving away, as I knew he would, and before long Mama came to live with us and help out with the kids. She became my youngest daughter’s father: I was too busy with work and school and studying to be the father she needed, so my mother filled in. Only occasional moments were available during those two years to spend with my children: a moment of soccer here; a snatch of time there; a very rare drive together somewhere; a bedtime story and Bible reading. So the walks began again, vicariously: My toddler walking with Mama, the flat sidewalks of Nebraska, picking daisies and watching the dogs and the birds of the Midwest, unconscious of time and hearing of the love of Jesus for children and the blessings of salvation.
Years earlier I had graduated from preaching school. Mama and Daddy had come to visit briefly and we were strolling in the yard together, Mama and I. Somehow we began to argue and she blurted: “All I want to talk about is Jesus, but you don’t want to talk about Him!” I suppose we were talking about some “deeper” issue, on which we disagreed, I don’t remember. I only remember the charge: “You don’t want to talk about Jesus!”
Somewhat earlier, I had been knocking doors and was invited into the apartment of some young folks where we talked, briefly. While I was making my point about how the world had left the plan of God by creating their own “denominations,” the young man stopped me with his comment: “You seem angry. Why would I want to be involved with people who see religion as something to be angry about?” Stuttering and sputtering, I soon left their home, to see them no more.
More years have passed: Mama is 100, my daughter is 17. Both have been on the shelf for several years now. Caring for Mama became too much for us and she resides in a nice nursing home with her mind seeping away; the toddler has grown past being an easily entertained youngster, where she is stuck in her father’s mind. It seems I can communicate with neither. While deeply convinced of the beauty and glory of Jesus, and able to talk with crowds about who he is and what he is, I can’t talk to my mother or my children about his love. One has gone on to other pursuits; the other can no longer carry on a conversation of any sort. The words sometimes are understandable but the connections are gone, and sometimes Mama is angry or frustrated, with her own inabilities. Speaking to her of Jesus’ love sometimes calms her fears; sometimes not. Speaking of Jesus’ love sometimes calms my fears; sometimes not.
Idyllic days: strolling in the woods, picking wild strawberries and speaking of Jesus’ love for me; no fences. Walking in the way, talking of Jesus’ love… “When you rise up, when you sit down, when you walk in the way with them, when you lie down…”
With all the communication devices and technology devised to communicate, how is it that we have such a hard time communicating the simple, the profound love of Jesus for us? Are we truly…
Hamstrung – To disable by cutting the great tendon at the back of the hock; cripple; to render powerless or useless; thwart.