Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

Symbol in My Driveway

March 28, 2006

I’m not exactly sure how they did it, but my grandfather and father taught me about perseverance and longsuffering. Not so much with words, but by their lives and their examples. As I said at my grandfather’s funeral (while wearing his tattered old denimn work coat which was more ‘patch’ than ‘jacket’), he taught us that ‘you build a fence one post at a time’.

How do you fill a trailer with corn? Grab a shovel, and start. How do you build a barn? With a hammer and some nails. How do you occupy yourself on the farm in the dead of winter? You teach yourself about internal combustion by rebuilding a tractor engine, one bolt at a time. How do you mow 15 acres? One lap at a time.

When I was young, my dad would bring me along on some project: moving boxes, or stacking wood, or sweeping the garage. Things that seemed impossible, but which we got done one piece at a time. I remember digging a post-hole for the new basketball pole in Rockford. We took out grandpa’s old post-hole digger, and my dad explained that he had used it when he was a kid to build a lot of fences. After many turns and a few inches, my attention started to wander. How deep did we need to go? “All the way down to the handles,” he said with a smile. The handles were almost as tall as me. But round and round, down and down we went. We got the hole dug, and the post in, and I somehow found enough energy to shoot some baskets. But I couldn’t quite imagine digging enough holes for a whole fence.

So now, when a dump truck load of mulch lands in the driveway, I just grin. It looks overwhelming, but I know that if I don’t worry about the end and just start at the beginning, it will be gone before I know it. I don’t mind the monotony, even when the mulch looks suspiciously like the leaves which I hauled out to the curb a few months ago. It all works out the same.

I break the giant pile down
flowerbed by flowerbed
wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow
pitchfork by pitchfork
leaf by leaf

The span of my years
year by year
month by month
day by day
hour by hour

minute contributions toward the Kingdom
or so I pray

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5 Responses to “Symbol in My Driveway”

  1. sonja says:

    That sounds suspiciously like how a quilt is made … piece by piece. If I look too hard at the end, I’ll never start. I like this a lot.

  2. timothy says:

    LIFE SIZE contributions, my great brother

  3. kate says:

    And it sounds like DARNED good exercise, say I, sitting at my desk!
    Nice way to look at it. So true! I’m sure you did an awesome job.
    Good point about the leaves, too.

  4. dad says:

    glad i imparted strong work ethics to my sons-thanks too for sharing good stuff with your friends
    I love you Son!

  5. P3T3RK3Y5 says:

    thanks for the poetry.

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