Posts Tagged ‘thoughts on’

Run, Travis, Run!

For the past 3 years, I have been in a Writers Group with 2 women, Janis Coverdale and Jeanette Breaux. Each month we workshop each others essays, articles, blog posts, and poetry. Their writing skills, literary instincts, and good humor have blessed my work. Following is a guest post by Janis. Enjoy.

Travis is neighbor child about nine.                                                          

He appeared on my doorstep with a signup sheet and asked me to sponsor him in a school fundraiser in which children would run around their school track. Travis described the marvelous field trip his class might win for the most laps. Would I please pledge one dollar for each lap he ran?

Of course I would. I signed my name and Travis trotted off. Inwardly I chuckled. Travis was a short, pudgy little guy and it amused me to picture him chugging and puffing around the track. As a reminder, I laid out a couple of dollars on my desk.

Saturday was race day. Sunday afternoon a very weary little boy appeared again on my doorstep. Travis said he would have been to see me sooner but his mother said he was too tired and had to nap first. I wondered why he was so tired until he handed me a signed note from the school’s event coach. Travis had run 30 laps! I was astonished. “Travis, this is wonderful! How did you do it?”

Travis explained that he got to the school track “really, really early in the morning and ran until it was getting dark.” He ran laps, rested, ran laps and rested. He stopped for drinks or snacks. He ran again. He told me in a stage-whisper that he had to walk sometimes, but the coach said it was okay. He fell down, too, pointing proudly to a scraped knee. He had tripped on a rock.

Travis was the last one to stop running. The coach had to wait for him.

Why did he run so hard and so long? Because, he explained, he “really, really wanted to go on the trip.” The coach apparently wasn’t supposed to reveal the final scores until school on Monday. But he confided in a jubilant Travis that, because of his laps, he and his friends would probably be going on the field trip. Travis’ freckles crinkled in a blissful grin.

I opened my wallet and handed a very proud child 30 dollars. Travis hugged me and started home, counting his money as he went.

I was pleased for Travis, but not so pleased with myself. I had paid Travis 30 dollars, but, in a way, I had shortchanged him. I never considered Travis would run more than a lap or two. I had measured him by the length of his legs, but had failed to measure his heart. And it was his heart that got him around the track 30 times. It was his heart that kept him running after all the other children had gone home.

I was reminded that I, too, have a race to run. The prize is Eternity.

On my last lap, I hope I will have run with faith and courage and a heart filled to bursting. I know my Coach will be waiting for me.

I hope He will say that I ran like Travis.


Winter Vineyard (Thoughts on March)

A friend and I were discussing some difficult things recently when I heard myself say, “There’s a lot going on in a winter vineyard.” I can tell you that living in a county with 50,000 acres of leafless vineyards might make you stop and think about that a bit.

By the month of March, the most crucial work of the vineyard (no, not harvesting – pruning) has been done. Not only have the vines been pruned, but the canes have been moved into heaps and mulched.  The past is the past.  Those canes have done their job.

And now the vines sleep. These vines – dark, bare, and seemingly lifeless – sleep all over hills and valleys, and along riverbeds and roadsides everywhere in Sonoma County.  There are no tractors, pickers, or pruners anywhere to be seen.  (Well, okay, the wild mustard is blooming.)

How in the world does this area produce 200,000 tons of grapes each year from those sticks?  It is because the farmer knows his vines. He hires pruners who know vines. Cuts are made carefully, strategically.  In which direction should this cane grow? The angle of the sun on that particular block of vines is considered.  Heavier growth is desirable here, thinner growth there. It is exceedingly precise, with quality of fruit always in mind.

The vines, naked and sorry-looking as they appear, are not really in trouble. There is a lot going on, deep in the healthy interior.  The mysterious processes of life will stir and vine-blood will flow again.

When Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches,” this was what He was talking about.  If it’s wintertime in the vineyard of your life, the prayer and obedience you have been faithfully practicing will pay off.  After this seemingly lifeless season, a surprising harvest will be produced in your life.

Fact is, you can’t bear fruit without pruning and rest.  Any farmer will assure you of that.

Are you trusting God that His good purposes are being worked out in your life – right now?

Orange Valentine (Thoughts on February)

While walking early one drizzly February morning with my doxie, I heard a very loud chorus of bird voices. Throughout a large, leafless oak in a farmhouse yard spread a congregation of robins.  Their cheery orange breasts shone in the muted sunlight filtering through showery clouds.  The presence of so many of these distinctive creatures was startling. Their chattering rose in waves that washed over Cosmo and I as we stood on the road. It was like a choir of gladness.

February is robin-like. Mid-month is technically mid-winter and at this precise point Valentines Day arrives.  This funny little pseudo-holiday is the bright orange breast of winter. For a brief moment in the very heart of the season’s stark colorlessness we are immersed in chocolate and flowers and bright red hearts.  We gorge on the color and taste and tenderness of love’s offerings. Somehow winter seems shortened and springtime hastened by the bold admonishment of this one day: Remember to show your love.

The ranks of robins thin by month’s end.  Perhaps they scatter and mingle among other birds throughout the year.  Or maybe they retreat to the hills and woodlands, far from man and his machinery.  Regardless, their unexpected appearance in midwinter gladdens the wet, chilly days of February and makes my heart want to sing along with them.

Do the people you love know it?

Thoughts on January

Vineyards of Sonoma Valley

Gone are the green leafy shades and sanctuaries of summer. Gone, too, are the leaves of brilliant fall vines flowing over the hills of our fair county.  Now, ghostly trees stand in blue dawn mists. In the gathering light of morning vineyards, pruned limbs are silhouetted against a pale sky.

This month strips and bares, revealing bones and sinew.  It is an honest month, without pretense, resting calm and confident between the pomp and celebration of Christmas and the bright sweetness of February’s love.

It is the month of my father’s birthday.  After Christmas when I was growing up, as January rolled around, he would at some point invariably exclaim, “Spring is on the way!” I believe he disliked what he considered the dreariness of winter months and there was something about the turn of the year that made spring seem within reach.

I wish I would have been there the morning of his death, his self-inflicted death, to put my arms around him and say those words he had uttered so often:  “Spring is on the way!”  The rain will cease, the darkness diminish, daylight will linger a bit longer with each passing day.  Don’t despair, don’t despair.  Spring is on the way.

Life is always at work, even in the dead of winter. Are you living in that awareness with hope and anticipation for the new year?

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