Saturday, December 24, 2011

"If Cows Could Bark" ...A short parable by Quinn O Heder

     On a small farm surrounded by fenced pastures filled with grazing cattle, a lazy hound dog kept watch from his kennel beside a small chicken run, while not far away worked a steady handed farmer to whom the house, fields, cows, dog and barn belonged. Unknown to the farmer, one hapless cow had gotten her foot entangled in a loose strand of barbed wire, and was trying desperately to free herself. The other cows moved freely about the large pasture, eating and mooing to their hearts content, but Penny, as we'll call the struggling cow, suddenly found herself only able to move as far as the sharp wire wrapped around her foot would allow. Several times more, she pulled against the barbs but the tightly wrapped wire only cut deeper, and deeper into her foot, so finally she gave up trying, hoping her loud calling would alert the farmer and bring him to help.
     Long into each night and through the days that followed, Penny raised her voice to the sky, sure that she was important enough that the farmer would leave the thing he was doing and come to her rescue, but to her dismay, he never came. Twice each day he would pause by the gate and gaze affectionately on his herd, before continuing on, but despite her incessant calling, he paid Penny no mind, seeing no reason to even venture near the crippling fence.
     Unable to comprehend the good farmer's lack of sensitivity to her plight, Penny continued her calling until the pain grew unbearable, and no longer able to walk, she could only stand still, while her cries grew ever weaker. Night after night, the farmer emerged from the house to check on the dog whenever the faithful hound began to bark. Once his bowl was without water, while another time he was just cold. A fox ventured near on another night, and several times the barking was prompted by a cat, or passing tumble weed.
“Why?” Penny cried in despair, “...why do you come out anytime he calls and just ignore me?” As the door to the house slapped shut behind the farmer, and the lights dimmed within, Penny sank to the ground, resigned to what ever fate the coming morning had in store.
     At sunrise the following morning, as the farmer paused for his customary gaze into the pasture, he noticed in the growing light that Penny was no longer standing in her usual place. Quickly he crossed the field and climbed over the fence to where she lay groaning in the tall grass.
“Oh Penny!” he cried, noting for the first time her swollen and bleeding leg, “...what have you done?”
“I don't know, but somehow I got caught up in the wire,” she replied, “...and before I knew it, it was so tight I couldn't get free”.
“It's OK,” he soothed, stroking her gently as the end of her life drew near, “...I just can't figure why you wouldn't have let me know you were in trouble, so I could come help you.”
“But I did Farmer, Sir,” she moo'd weakly, “...I called to you night and day, but you didn't hear me over the other cows. 

             Perhaps," she paused, "...if cows could bark.”

     Merry Christmas everybody, ...Please remember in all your doing to be attentive to your seemingly well neighbors and friends, not everybody knows how to ask for help, and in this tumultuous time, there are so many, and they're all around us.  God Bless and keep you,


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Half Alive?"

"So are you 49 or 50 this year?" came the question last week at a holiday get together.  In an ill attempt at humor, I answered, "I'll be half dead on the 28th."  "Half dead, ...or half alive?" came my friend's response, causing me to do a quick psychic self evaluation.  As I inventoried my personal vault of "what's going on with you's", I suddenly found my comment much less humorous than unsettling when put into proper holiday perspective.
     When the news seems extra ordinarily full of negatives in what should be the happiest time of the year, it's sometimes hard to see life as half lived rather than half gone.  The truth of the matter is that the raging battle between good and bad in the world is still being won by good, yet for some reason we allow our attention and focus to remain riveted on obscenity rather than the virtue.
     My thought is that we must consciously tear our eyes away from the carnage of life's train wrecks, and look instead at the busy rescuers, who rush in and through the wreckage, giving aid, comfort and lifting the spirits of hapless victims.  With every news cast, on every facebook page, amidst thousands of tweets, in supermarkets, on the streets, in shelters and charities, Virtuous people champion goodness in our human cause, even while all around them their attempt to change the world appears hopeless.
     For the past week, gifts have been showing up on our doorstep counting down the days of Christmas, while all around, in neighborhoods, churches and businesses, hearts and minds have been uniting to lift struggling families.  Family and friends have reached out to each other with loving and compassionate service, while school children have collected food for the food bank.  Still, there are those among us who suffer unnoticed, quietly in their own private form of despair.  As a whole, we are pretty good at identifying the physical needs of those who are willing to let them be known, but to become conscious of less obvious financial, spiritual, and emotional distresses, we have to tune ourselves in a little different way.
     A close friend called me the other day wanting to get together.  "I've had an impression all week," he said, "...and I'd hate myself if you need me, and I didn't answer the call."  Well, I did need him, but like many people, I keep personal struggles hidden from public view, and only share them with God hoping that he will somehow come to my aid.  
     Sunday night, I gathered with my parents and siblings for our annual dinner together.  It was a wonderful night, lending an emotional support unique only to family, that I had been starving for.  It may sound silly that a fifty year old man needed his mother, but I surely did, and sitting next to her, holding her hand, while basking in the safe, comfortable, nurture of loved ones seemed nearly perfect.  It's unfortunate that as children of God, we don't always view each other as brother's and sisters, ...moms, dads, and grandparents.  We do a pretty good job with our universal love for children, but it's with each other that I think we need to adopt a different perspective.  As for me, I just want to say thanks to you who have already done this, who listen with your hearts and act.  I for one have been richly blessed by you.
     Merry Christmas everybody, and God bless you 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

There Isn't A Better View

     The sweet smell of pine floated on the crisp air yesterday in the towns of Layton and Kaysville Utah, and will likely persist for the coming week.  Not since our experience waiting through Hurricane Hugo, have I seen first hand, wind damage like what we found as we left the freeway and entered the old, and normally sleepy neighborhood where my parents live.
     Each home we passed, seemed damaged in some way, whether suffering structural damage, or having their beautiful trees blown down, few if any escaped last weeks wind storm unscathed.  The farther in we drove, the more my expectation of finding a sad and down trodden people became likely, but when we pulled up to the mountains of fallen tree limbs and debris behind which my parent's little home was hidden, I found something quite different.
     The dull whir of gas generators, acted as the constant background for the symphony of chain saws, wood chippers, power tools, adult laughter and playing children.  I was immediately greeted by five adult men, two younger, while the other three were closer to my father's age, but all smiling as if they were the excited hosts of a huge party.  People thronged the neighborhood, where more pickups and trailers had gathered than would be found at a redneck world fair, was truly unbelievable.
     My cute little mother was in her work clothes and in the thick of the clean up, while Dad, having only a week ago suffered a bout with Pneumonia, remained inside the house.  My brother in law Chad was there with two of his beautiful girls, as was Lane, my older brother, the consummate care taker of our aging parents, as well as us, his younger siblings.  All were red faced and breathless in the cold, yet still smiling and happy, as was everybody I saw.
     Having arrived late, I hurried to get busy on the damaged roofs of both the house and garage, perhaps the best job of anybody, because of the beautiful vantage point it offered.  Feelings of goodness radiated all around as literally thousands of people for miles around all united in a common cause.  Seemingly oblivious to the loss of electricity, giant trees broken or uprooted, crushed cars, sheds, and homes, the elderly residents of my parents neighborhood couldn't have projected more happy faces, and with the added spirit brought by car and truck loads of eager loved ones and friends arriving to help, I felt treated to be there with Marianne and the kids. 
     The wonderful smells of fresh cut conifers, beautifully chaotic sounds of busy hands, machinery, friendly chatter, and intoxicating feelings of brotherhood were enough to make a believer of me.  My niece called up to me as I was just finishing the last roof repair and asked,
     "How does it look from up there Uncle Quinn?"  I joked back at her that I had the best job, but taking a moment to really look, I thought to myself,
     "It's like looking down on Heaven." 
When helping each other, the human family truly resembles God, its literal Father and in my opinion, there isn't a better view, ...from Heaven, or here.