Meditations

No garden planted in 1962

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Every year, Dad planted a vegetable garden. He enjoyed working in his garden, watching it grow, sharing the harvest and knowing he was providing for his family. In 1962, he did not plant a garden.

That spring, my great uncle, the superintendent of a local school district, was accused of embezzling. During the investigation he found out who had been embezzling, but he wanted them to come forth and admit their guilt. They did not. He looked at a possible jail sentence, the total loss of his reputation and livelihood. He could not bear the weight of it all. The result was a nervous breakdown.

Uncle Robert would sit on his back porch, stare off into the distance and smoke his pipe. He refused to see or talk to anyone except my dad.

Each evening during the spring and summer, Dad would come home from work, and we would go to see my uncle. I do not remember much about those daily trips except that Dad helped carry his burden. He did not offer advice or empty phrases. He joined Uncle Robert on the porch, stared off into the distance and smoked his pipe.

The women would hunker down around the kitchen table and whisper horrible things like “hasn’t taken a bath in weeks,” “he won’t eat,” “I don’t know when he last slept” and “hasn’t spoken a word for days.”

When dark came, we children would sit on the porch and watch the fireflies dance in the night, then fall asleep on the porch and wake up in our beds.

I do not know how long those daily trips lasted. Eventually, the person responsible came forth.

Slowly, Uncle Robert did respond, bathe, eat, and in the fall, return to his job as superintendent of schools.

Dad did not hold a degree in psychology, in counseling, or have the gift of knowing how to say just the right thing.

He did know this was too great a burden for Uncle Robert to carry alone. Dad knew that if he were in the same position, he would want someone to sit with him.

I would challenge you to look for someone with a burden then sit and help bear that burden.

“As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Luke 6:31

“Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

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