Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Sermon on A Stump

He was just sitting there.

On a stump.

Looking away from the people who were working behind him. Looking toward the group of teenagers who filled the field in front of him.

And I won't ever forget him.

I was driving past a local High School and noticed that the marching band was outside rehearsing their formations and their flag waving protocols. A colorful group of kids, awash in high spirits and bright colors, filled with energy and focus.

Although they didn't realize it, they were being watched. The teenager across the road, a young migrant worker, was taking a brief respite from the back breaking work of harvesting crops under a scorching Carolina sun. He was turned toward the dreams he had no hopes of ever achieving, turned away from the sadness that comprised the narrow boundaries of his life.

I only had time for the briefest glimpse; however, I didn't need a week, a month, or a year to comprehend the look of naked yearning on his face as he watched kids his own age prepare to march into the next football game, the next year of High School, the first year of college, and from there, into a future that was brighter than the blazing sun.

It occurred to me that those marching students probably had no idea how truly blessed they were. Sure they had loads of homework, dating problems, tough teachers, summer job concerns, and worries about being accepted by their favorite college.

But all of those "problems" actually represented opportunities, opportunities that they didn't think twice about having.

The boy on the stump. The kids in the field. Teenagers at the same stage of life.

Some of them marching off into the great unknown of unlimited possibilities. One of them turning and trudging back into the not-so-great "known" of every day unfolding exactly like the day before.

That young man represented a sermon on a stump to me.

The sermon said, "Yes, life is complicated and challenging and full of decisions and choices and unexpected turns in the road. But all those decision and choices that make life complicated also represent freedom and opportunity. So stop your bellyaching about how hard life is, because you don't know the meaning of hard until you've sat on a stump and watched your dreams for a different future march away into the distance and all you're left with is the bleak, sad sameness of a thousand days passing. "

A sermon on a stump.

I will always see it, always hear it, always remember it.

And it will always remind me. I am blessed.

13 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Anonymous said...

Becky
What an excellent post. This is something we all need to remember. Very well said.

Anonymous said...

What a poignant perspective--exactly the kind of writing that should be in your next book . . .

Carolyn Stephenson said...

Don't you love it when life speaks loud enough to hear if you are watching? Thanks for sharing Becky.

Pam D said...

That was so beautifully written that it made me want to cry from the sheer impact of the mental picture that you painted with your words. I think I will print it out and read it to Bug tonight; he is certainly among the more blessed in this world. Somehow, the greater the blessings, the smaller the gratitude. That ranks at or near the top as some of your finest writing, Becky.

MaryH said...

That is beautiful. Proves one thing - you don't need to be in a church at an "official" service to hear God's voice and be touched by His message - God love that boy on the stump - He was God's messenger at that moment for you and who knows how many more that hopefuly, like you, took the time to notice. I hope and pray he found a way to march off to some of his dreams and God bless you, Becky, for finding something extraordinary in what appeared so ordinary to others who rushed past.

Sue G said...

Another wonderful post, Becky, well-written and wonderfully observed. You have a gift for acknowledging seemingly simple, superficial life portraits at a deeply profound and thought provoking level.

Your love of photography surely began long before you held a camera in your hands. You have within you an innate view finder with an omnipresent lens through which you shift the apertures and f-stops of life so poignantly and so perfectly. Exposure through your gift for words. Timing through your gift for honoring the present moment. And clarity through your gift for filtering out the extraneous to focus on the substance.

I would like to think that if that young man could sit and witness the potential of those young lives then he could construct the possibility of his dream for himself.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Becky this one is just over the top. And. . . you've been holding out on me. You never told us that story, been saving it up for the blog I suppose. This one must be submitted to a magazine.

Love,

Steve

Anonymous said...

I'll just say, "Wow". And let me say it backwards for emphasis, "woW". What a post.

Also, I'd like to say that I can finally see the widget--I'm so excited! I'm using the computer at church, so evidently our home computer has a weird filter or something. At least that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Love, Deb

Lesley said...

THIS is the stuff. The stuff of which you can communicate so well. Glorious!

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