Monday, October 12, 2009



like honor and an old fashioned word. No one speaks of it anymore..
But I have learned that you cannot live without it... It is not faith..but courage after all, that moves mountains.

You can live without money, talent, beauty or personality..

But you cannot survive without courage.

Contrary to the thought of centuries of religious and philosophers..
who are a lot smarter than I and should know better.. you CAN live without faith and ethics.. People do it all the time. But you cannot live without courage.

You CAN live without education..rank or position... But you cannot live without courage..

It seems to me that the first and most requisite command was left out of the Ten Commandments. Surely Moses, ..blinded by the situation, ..simply did not hear the very first commandment..

That commandment surely WAS...


Thou shalt live in poverty or health or sickness..
in the bosom of a loving family or cast out to the streets..

Yet you must live...

you must have courage..

You must live!!!

and the definition of courage must therefore live... and to recognize success..or failure.. as merely a byblow of life...

because you are busy living...

My neighbor was buried on a cold, January day. She was 52 years old and died a hard
cancer death home. Her husband loved her very much.

It had to be the most God-Awful weather for a funeral I have ever
experienced. I didn't go to visitation but to the funeral because I knew I
would know few there. When I saw, Sunday morning, how bad the weather was I planned on going on to the cemetery and dressed for it, thinking that a lot of the older people just would not be able to do it in that cold blowing sleet and freezing rain.

But North Missourians take their dying seriously and on that dim morning, headlights strung out behind me as far as I could see and I was many cars behind the family. She was buried in the little Christian Chapel Cemetery just around the corner to the South where the old church was blown off the foundation last year.

Blowing sleet..and those old people soaked and chilling. The only men in overcoats were the high school principal, the banker and the guys from the funeral home. I stood next a neighbor away back from the green canvassed area that held the gravesite and a few chairs for family and we talked about cows and hay and coyotes. The sleet rattled down on my neighbor's shoulders and I tried not to think about how precarious his own health was. And I was shamed by the warmth of my old blue wool coat and the sweater under it and the thermal underwear under my skirt.

Even the children dripped in that weather. And no one rushed them to cars
or shelter.

The people just stood there .. and I just stood there and listened to the
silent people, because I could not hear what the minister was saying
inside the green tent that barely covered the family and what struck
me was that these people were not in tune with the messages of "in my house
there are many mansions" and "there is a better place up yonder", but that
theirs was rather the steadfastness of a strong people who did not take
death lightly but refused to bend to it.

And I was left with the wish that when they plant me it would be on such a
day. A cold day. Swept with rain and sleet and bereft of any tempting sweet
breath or breeze to hold me to this earth that I love so. And that these
strong people, or others like them, would salute my passing
The Rooster and the Feather

A person learns a lot on the farm and the best teachers are often creatures such as ourselves, struggling with all the baser instincts and displaying only occasionally the nobility God put in them.

One cold January morning my old yellow rooster, Ginger, strutted and croaked importantly as he called his half-dozen hens to the spot by the drive where I was dumping their can of corn. His nobler part allowed him to wait patiently for the hens and as he called they came, first meandering slowly lifting each foot high in the funny little dance-walk of chickens on cold ground and then, on seeing the mound of corn and connecting it with his calls, running, all from different directions where they had been searching for a stray wisp of dehydrated grass or a plump beetle, quick-frozen and left from the last treacherous, spring-mimicking thaw.

And all was well with their world until Baja, the younger white rooster, joined in. Ginger flew at him with “tooth and talon”, spent precious minutes beating him away from the feed and wound up with a beak full of white feathers. The corn pile is quickly being diminished by the hens. Another precious minute is wasted as he shakes his head and rubs his beak on the ground to disengage the feathers.

By now, partly through the efforts of the white rooster, the corn pile is almost gone. Ginger is left with one feather, not a smooth outer feather but a fluffy “underwear” feather, frozen to his upper beak. He opens and closes his beak, shakes his head cross ways and up and down. The feather sticks. He pulls his head back as far as he can and looks cross-eyed at the tiny cloud a fraction of an inch from his nostril. By now the corn pile is gone, Baja has wandered off and the hens are meandering back, one by one, to their place of choice in the yard on a very cold morning.

Finally, a combination of his beakly manipulations and a sharp breeze dislodge the bit of fluff and it wafts away on the winter air. And he has had no breakfast.

There should be a lesson in there somewhere.