Two windows cut holes through the backside of the barn. I stand underneath them, look up, shielding eyes from late-afternoon sun, and think about how those barn-eyes have seen much on this farm.
Lee man after
Lee man after
has combed through these same golden rows, heavy with creamy pearls in pods.
Lee woman after
Lee woman after
has stood here to watch her man take the year’s first autumn swipe at the fields.
I stand witness to a century-old story. My Lee man — the only one left on this farm — finds his place at the seat of a John Deere combine. I stand underneath shadowy eyes of an old barn, kick at dirt clods, and wait for my favorite farmer to crest the slope. He’s headed my way, spinning harvest dust in a timeless rite of passage.
Today, we harvest.
The girls and I have come for the inaugural pass through these fields, tended for 100 years by Lee men named Ole, then his son Milo, then his son Paul, then his son Scott.
Scott is the one I call my favorite farmer. He’s the one who assured us all last year, when an early-season snow delayed harvest until late October. He’s a man of straightforward word and thought. His repeated refrain is this: “God’s got it.”
This year, we harvest early. And the soybeans are just perfect for the pickin’.
He ambles over to us with the burly combine. “Wanna ride?”
The girls race for the stairs. I call out: “Is there room for me, too?”
He waves me aboard.
We head east through luminous fields and watch combine teeth chew through pod-laden stalks. Yield looks promising, my favorite farmer says. Weather forecast couldn’t be better.
I shake my head in grateful disbelief, and I remember the snow … all the snow.
“By the time you get back from Texas, there won’t be a whole lot of soybeans left in this county,” he says, clutching the wheel, with a daughter’s hands wrapped around his.
The harvest reel will spin and spin, and I will fly south to Texas. I swallow hard. Is this guilt I’m feeling? At harvest, I’m really going to leave him to tend to fields and to children? At harvest???
But he says, By all means, go! And Grandma Joyce will help. And I whisper thanks for this undeserved grace …
I’ll leave early this morning, before sun rises over these harvest-ready fields. I’ll fly from Iowa to Texas to spend a weekend with these people — this team of High Calling writers and editors . For the next few days, we will plan and think and dream and write … and worship.
And I wonder this:
Is this a time to plant? Or a harvest?
For me? Perhaps mostly, just to grow.
I am a writer and a pilgrim, still so green, barely shooting up from the ground. And I whisper to the Father again, so grateful for the grace of friends whose hands I have not shook, nor eyes seen, nor laughter heard. Yet I love them all the same. They are friends, tending to fields of grace in New York and St. Louis and Canada and Indiana and Lincoln, Neb., and other places.
And they help me grow.
And my favorite farmer helps me grow.
And my sweet girls help me grow.
And you, dear friend? You help me grow.
And one day … yes one day … I shall harvest.
“God’s got it.”
I hope to post here a time or two from Laity Lodge in Texas, during our writers retreat with High Calling editors. If not, I shall see you next Monday. And maybe, I will have grown just a little bit taller by then?