Written by Paul Penner Tuesday, 29 June 2010 17:02
Wheat harvest in central Kansas is coming to an end while in far western Kansas, they are going strong.
For producers in our area, yields have ranged from disappointing to surprising, from 25 bushels per acre to more than 50. In short, this year is nothing spectacular, nothing special. As for the price of wheat, one would have to say the same thing as well.
Personally, this year was one of firsts, however. Son Ben was unable to make the annual trek to our farm, thanks in part to the anticipated, yet early arrival of twin girls. As I write this, daughter-in-law Anna is still awaiting the day when she can carry one or both in her arms.
Lacking a combine driver with necessary skills to match, someone was needed to fill the gap. As luck would have it, Ben’s neighbor, Gary, is a qualified truck driver with a CDL and experience with machinery.
With unemployment in Minnesota hovering around 15 percent, his current profession as an electrical technician took a big hit when the recession shut down major construction projects in the Twin Cities area.
Ben approached Gary with the idea of working on a farm during wheat harvest. He accepted the offer and one day before harvest began, Gary arrived to help. I took over the combine driving chores and he drove the truck.
This being our first “set” of grandchildren, I’m anxiously awaiting news of the big event. I’ve never experienced anything like this, never been a granddad before.
When we received news from the parents-to-be about the twins, planning for their arrival began in earnest. There were items to purchase, in duplicate. “Baby proofing” our home is a new priority. Travel to Minnesota is now a preferred “working vacation” destination.
Excitement of the coming event eventually gave way to nostalgia. I remember the days before Ben’s arrival as a newborn.
The feeling of joy as well as a sense of inadequacy were competing for attention. I feared I might not be up for the task. The responsibility of raising a child and preparing him for life is no small matter. My fears, though very real, were gradually put to rest as we welcomed him into our home.
Looking back, especially with the privilege of knowing how things turned out, I marvel how our role as parents, events in our lives and faith in a higher power combine to bring a child into adulthood, to be able to step away from family and create another family.
This humbles me deeply. What if I made different choices along the way?
In a recent conversation with Ben, the excitement and anticipation of these new lives also raised questions I had as a first-time expectant father. Without hesitation, my response was positive. His skills, his intelligence, his ability to adapt and change, his tender heart, devotion and love for family was up to the task.
His devotion and faith in God also brings within these new relationships an assurance that he can rely on God to carry the burden when the task is too heavy a load.
Even so, when the task remains in the near future, such assurances may seem insignificant. That’s where family and good friends come in, to walk along side by side, though perhaps not always giving direct assistance, yet being there, encouraging and providing emotional and spiritual support.
In a metaphorical sense, I’m experiencing a great harvest in life. Children are precious. They are born into a loving family. They learn new things every day. They grow physically, mentally, socially and even spiritually.
Children learn from adults. They learn the language of love and even the language of hate. They are like sponges, soaking up everything and reflecting every human behavior they observe in adults.
The greatest harvest one can aspire to is to equip one’s child with the ability to choose right from wrong, to value human life, to build people up and equip them to love not only themselves and others, but to love God as well.
When they step into the world on their own, these adult children are not alone. They carry with them skills, values and other character building tools that we provided, thanks in part to our parents and their parents.
That said, I can’t wait to meet my new grandkids.