Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Legacies, lilies & Mom

Yesterday was Tuesday, so that means it was "Date Day" with my Mom. Almost every Tuesday, she and I go out for lunch and then head over to our favorite organic grocery store.

On the drive over, Mom asked me if I had noticed that certain grasses, wild flowers and leafs had begun changing colors already? I'm normally pretty observant, but when it comes to nature I guess that she has me beat hands down.

(So it would appear that Autumn has already made some inroads into the landscape. Bummer.)

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these...So do not worry, saying "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Matt.6: 28-34

I know a lady who grew up without having access to basic services. Her house had no running water or electricity. They had to dig a well to get water to drink. They had to use a hole covered by a wood shack for a toilet. Her family used horse-drawn carts to get from place to place. Or they simply walked. Fuel for the cooking fire consisted of the dried cow dung they had collected. Needless to say, luxuries such as T.V.s, radios and computers were completely out of reach...not even a potential dream for her and her family. Frankly, it sounds almost desperate.

How would you like to grow up in such circumstances?

Well, that was my Grandmother growing up on the North Dakota prairie, circa 1910-ish.

Grandma lived into her 97th year. During her lifetime, she saw more changes then anyone ever will again. From an Agrarian society, to a post-industrial one. From coal powered steam engine trains, to space stations. From the rifle, to the nuclear missile. From pen & ink, to lap top computers.

By today's standards, Grandma grew up in almost abject poverty.

On the drive to the store, Mom was telling me about another one of her crazy relatives up in North Dakota ("NorT DaH-KoDa" as they would pronounce it.) who was homesteading at the turn of the last century. He had to move from one place to the other, and so he packed everything they had into a train car...including the cows. At one point, the cows had to be let off so as to walk the remaining 12 miles to the new plot of land. So, the 12 year old son is put in charge of the cows. He spends the next 2 days or so marching the cattle across the prairie all by himself, sleeping under the stars.

If you've ever been to the paradise known as North Dakota you may have noticed a couple of things. #1. There are not a lot of trees...for shade or anything else. #2. There are not a lot of people. #3. It's very flat. #4. It gets bitterly cold in the winter, and beastly hot in the summer. #5. There are sandworms that create the spice melange for inter-planetary travel that leap from the ground to swallow all who dare enter. (OK, maybe not. But the capital city, Bismark, population 50,000, does have a hip-hop station that plays Gangsta Rap about what it's like to grow up in the hood, YO!)

But off goes this 12 year old kid with his cows, out to stake out a new life for his family on the open prairie. Why? Because that is just what you did, that's why.

Mom made sure to point out to me that all her relatives considered themselves to be very wealthy. They really didn't have much in the way of money, but she said that there wasn't anything to spend it on who cares. They had everything they needed, especially family.

Grandma considered herself to be very wealthy, too. Her dad, who was the local blacksmith, also doubled as a traveling preacher on Sundays. (The towns were to small to support a single preacher. So Great-Grandpa Shroeder just hit a variety of places each week.) He also provided free meals..sometimes at the cost of various chores, to the hobos who would ride the rails through town. Apparently someone in the family could play the accordion, because Grandma knew how to polka with the best of them. She had a very happy childhood. They were very rich indeed.

No Ipods. No cell phones. No flushing toilets. Yes, dried cow poo to cook by. Very wealthy. (Did Grandma know something that I don't?)

I love being outdoors. I love lakes and trees. Streams are awesome. Nature is beautiful. And while I wish that Winter in Minnesota was shorter, and that Spring would not be such a tease, I do enjoy all 4 seasons.

Still, I can't help but think that Jesus saw nature on a much deeper level than I do. It's his creation after all. When he was talking to all those people on that mountain, and he told them to look at the birds, the flowers, all the nature around them, he saw a truth in all of it that I think we miss so easily. I can't really put it into words, but I think that when he looked at a lilly in a field, Jesus saw perspective where you or I would just see a pretty flower.

I think that in the new heaven & earth, when we are given new, perfected bodies, we will finally be able to see God's creation the way he does. We will be able to look at a plant and enjoy it for the creation it is. Perhaps eternity really will be the everlasting enjoyment and exploration of God's creation.

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Cor. 13:12

It's going to be amazing.



This song seemed to fit the general theme. Still, I wish people would work on these videos. The music is good, but the pictures always seem so lame in comparison.


  1. Wow Joe...perspective, what it can do. I enjoyed reading this today. It challenges me on so many levels to spend more time with family, to be thankful for the simple things, and to ponder what I am supposed to be doing with all this blessing God has poured out on me.

    It just rained hard here and everything is green and wet. Such an amazing day with all of nature refreshed and clean. I can smell the dirt, the trees and the very life it is emanating.

    Someday man...all of this will make sense and WOW! It is going to me amazing.

    Thank you so much for sharing so much with me. I need it. Peace,


  2. I'm going to teach YOU and so many others how to "Properly" Bass Fish in the new H&E, D. It's a good thing that we have eternity, because with you it will probably take a long time.

    Either way, it will blow our minds.