2015-10-07 / Editorial


Don Lively

The recent rains around the South brought much needed relief from the months long drought. The dry spell prompted public prayers led by the governor on the steps of the Georgia Capitol. Churches all over the other affected areas held special prayer sessions asking for moisture. I attended several different congregations during that time and every one of them pleaded for divine intervention.

There were also plenty of scoffers. The governor was ridiculed by some as were those who believed that prayer could break a drought. Some editorialists even railed against the use of state time and expense for such measures.

Then it rained.

It rained a lot in some areas, less in others, but the water did arrive. Around our place, in late January, there is still water standing in the low spots.

I know why it rained. Daddy taught me years ago.

We stood on the edge of a field watching the first irrigation system he ever installed shooting thousands of gallons of water onto the parched crops. I had never seen such a rig and was amazed. I said "Daddy, this thing is great! It'll cover this whole field in a couple of days". He just continued to look out over the field and replied "Son, the Good Lord can do the same thing in fifteen minutes", then added rather cynically, "I just wish He WOULD". He explained that the irrigation system was just a stop gap measure until the rains came. He said, "The Good Lord ( I never heard Daddy refer to God by any other name except The Good Lord) knows when it needs to rain and He'll send it when He decides to".

Daddy might have been a little impatient, but he knew who was really in charge.

Years later and many miles from the farm, I was with a friend in the Chuchara Valley in southern Colorado. She worked part time on a ranch owned by an old gentleman whose family had moved Out West from Alabama after the Civil War ended. The ranch was nestled between rolling foothills to the east and the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the west.

I struck up a great friendship with the owner and one year I asked him to let me help with his Fall roundup. I convinced him that I could ride, which I could, and that I could rope, which I could not then and still can't. During the week I did manage to get a rope on a few steers and, in doing so, provided the real cowhands with enough entertainment that they wouldn't let the owner run me off when he realized that I had deceived him about my ability with a lariat.

Actually, he may have had an inkling that I had fudged the facts a bit because he assigned me a horse that I'm sure was made by Satan himself. But the animal and I came to an understanding after an hour or so the first day, and were quite a team by the end of the roundup. Roping steers is hard enough on the flats but much trickier in a fir thicket in the Rockies!

On my last day I sat in the saddle with the owner and my friend, also still mounted, atop a rise overlooking his ranch. From there we could see the whole valley before us. Beyond the valley the sun was beginning to disappear behind the white peaks. We saw hundreds of cows dotting the valley floor. I was in awe.

" You have it made here," I said. " I'd give anything to have a tenth of what you have."

The old man just held his gaze on the vista below. He pondered a moment, then asked, " Partner, do you know David?"

Speaking before thinking, as usual, I asked " David who, sir?" He laughed. " I'm referring to the Psalmist, in the Bible".

"Oh, well sure," I replied, not wanting to appear any more simpleminded than I already did.

"Well David made it clear that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Everything you see down there belongs to Him. I'm just the caretaker". He chuckled, " Even those two that it took you all week to rope are His."

"Three!" I corrected him as we headed the horses downhill. While we rode I had a déjà vu moment and remembered Daddy all those years before explaining how the rain came when God let it.

Others can doubt and scoff. As for me, I'll rely on the wisdom of one old farmer and one old rancher.

And the Good Lord.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of the new book, South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Livelycolo@aol.com.

Return to top