The Great Plains Poet
Grandpa Don ~ better known as Opa
Our “seasoned one”, Grandpa Don
Five different faces stared across from each other at the butcher block farm table that sits in my simple home. Coffee mugs of all shapes, colors and sizes were cradled in each hand as I watched the other’s expressions lift, fall, and convey their emotions. At my weathered table, sat four generations of the Lord’s people. Each had been through trials and elation. All persons seated knew some form of sorrow or joy; the marks of life that each person must endure.
The one thing this gathering had going for it was experience. It was etched upon each person’s face as they were relaxing in my dining room the size of most homes bathrooms. The closeness of the space brings an immediate intimacy. There is no escaping to a corner and being alone with one’s thoughts at my kitchen table. You must engage.
After pulling in a few draws of my cream-laden coffee, I watched, and most importantly, listened to all the conversations being shuffled around. The frenetic pace at which each story and colloquialism were spoken was exhausting for a scrambled mind like mine but, I treasured it greatly. For I consider it an honor to watch generations of firm believers speak of political concerns, charities, dreams, prayer requests, and of the direction the Lord is taking each one. This was an experience I held dear.
The graduated lines on the carafe of caramel colored liquid became more exposed as the bounty it held began to reach the bottom. Opposite the table from me was a soft-spoken man of God I called Grandpa Don, but my son has come to know him as “Opa”. The fingers on his tan, weathered hands held a blue leather-bound “boy-focused” bible that was my son’s. I saw concentration set his brow as he thumbed slowly through page after page. It appeared that he was searching for his favorite scriptures while intently looking at the various notes my son’s bible contained. Sheepish grins and softly uttered “hmm’s” would denote passages that seemed to strike a chord within him. Trying not to intrude on his “moment”, I watched him carefully, not to pry or to intrude, but to learn. For in this stooped older man was much wisdom and a seasoning that only comes from a life well lived and totally given over to the Lord.
Let me back up a little and explain. I didn’t receive an upbringing in righteousness in the house I grew up in. As a matter of fact, I found myself at 40 plus years old, wanting much in Fatherhood, Nurturing, Kindness, Encouragement and Instruction on how to raise a family… properly that is. This created a problem for me. As a husband and a father, these were skills that I needed to possess and quickly at that. So one day I realized, to my utter disappointment, I had no idea what I was doing as a father and husband.
I knew something had to be done about it. After asking the Lord to show me what to do and by searching his word, he began to arrange people in my life as an example of the Godly virtues I was lacking. Experienced persons would model a needed characteristic and I would put that in my pocket. I would witness an act of loving kindness and I would bend over and pick up its remnant to use later. A faithful believer would speak a word of encouragement and before it fell upon the floor, I would place it in between my cheek and gum and spit it out into my own syllables forming an edifying sentence of my own. What I did was watch and listen to the older ones, the faithful believers who were on the path of righteousness. And I learned that the “seasoned ones” had secrets to tell and I would collect as many of them as I could.
Praying that no one was paying attention to me, I thought of all Grandpa Don had been through as I was moving from keen interest to staring in fascination. Pondering some of the events of his life revealed to me he was one of the best examples of the “greatest generation” I have known. Let me build the foundation that this unshakable house sits on; indulge me for a few sentences if you will.
Connor’s “Opa”, was in a car crash that took his older brother and his father’s life. He fought the tyranny of Hitler with his service in the Navy. His hands worked the ground as a farmer during the difficult and bountiful times in the Great Plains. This man of few words, has buried two wives, and still has smiles for all his great-grandchildren as each one tears around his meager home during visits and holidays. In other words, wisdom and experience is coursing through his veins; definitely a man to be respected, appreciated and learned from.
The tenor of his voice broke the silence as he began to remark at the usefulness of my son’s bible. He thought the footnotes and scattered snippets of wisdom in Connor’s “sword” was very helpful for a young man. Grandpa Don didn’t have to verbally complete his thought before I was already imagining what it was like to study the bible in his formative years. We have many more tools for study at our ready than his generation had. The invention of the internet really has changed the way we study in our ultra-fast, modern world. My wife speaks of a touching memory of Grandpa Don searching carefully through a large heavy concordance and taking his finger down each column until the exact word that was hiding became found. It took great effort and patience to grow daily in God’s word in those days and that effort paid off in his latter years right in front of me.
He spoke a few more comments, but not too many more after that. He doesn’t vocalize very often; making the treasury of his knowledge much more valuable than mine. So, when Grandpa Don has an observation, I stop in mid-sentence, close my mouth and listen; hoping with anticipation there will be a secret he will wish to tell.
There were so many verses to grab a hold of on this subject. I wanted to focus on a verse for people who currently don’t have anyone in their lives that will lead by example and model the characteristics of God for them.
Here’s what God promises: “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:15(ESV)
If you find yourself wanting and don’t feel equipped for the job that you’ve been handed, God will bring people in and out of your life that will impart to you knowledge and understanding married with what you are drawing from Him daily as well.
If you come from a broken home and you feel like you want prayer, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on this post and I will lift you up to the Lord which will set in motion the discipleship you need to carry you until you become that seasoned one.
I hope this post reminds us all of the wisdom and experience the generations before us possess. From now on, let us all slow down and look into the caring eyes of a seasoned one… Hoping for secrets they wish to tell.
Please take the time to comment, re-post, “Like” on Facebook and Twitter, and most of all, tell others what you’ve read here today.
The Great Plains Poet, seeker of the Lord’s wisdom from the faithful ones who’ve paved the way.
God bless you all and enjoy the poem below.
Secrets The Seasoned Ones Wish To Tell
by Chris T.
Folks push past them in the line,
No time to slow personal agendas
We talk over them when it is their time,
Missing the facet of knowledge, the wisdom it brings.
We all think we are each experts in everything we do,
Pursuing a self-gratifying existence that’s dull,
Never respecting the experience of a time clock punched,
Letting it bounce off our hardened skull.
Scarcely do we make a trip,
Allowing a tremendous resource to go untapped,
They wait alone and bite their lip,
When it’s obvious to them you’ve missed a step.
We sure show up with their grandchildren in tow,
Demanding a sitter like we’re ringing a bell,
But prudence and patience makes the experienced wise,
Secrets the seasoned ones wish to tell.
Thanks Chris for allowing me to post such a beautiful story and poem!
For more great stories and poetry please visit Chris’s blog here:
This story was re-blogged with permission.