Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Corn Field

On a boy’s journey to manhood there are defining moments. One of mine came on a farm as a twelve year old boy.

Mr. Z—as we affectionately called him—was the farmer. He hired my friends and I for fifteen dollars a day to hoe his beans, pick his tomatoes, feed his turkeys, and in the fall, harvest his apples.

One field, however, remained a mystery to me for the first three years. Only older boys were allowed to work in the corn field. As my junior high years passed I grew tired of picking the same vegetables. When I left the tomato fields my arms were itchy and my hands were black. When I left the pickle fields my arms were scratched from the thorny plants. The potato field was swampy, and picking beans was painfully slow. I wanted something new; I wanted to pick corn.

I got my first chance on a humid July day when help was scarce. Mr. Z instructed my friend and me to load up the wagon with empty waxed banana boxes and a few bushel baskets. We hopped on and he pulled us up the hill with the tractor.

On arrival, I discovered that corn stalks produce heat—especially in July. As we dismounted, Mr. Z explained that my friend and I would take turns following him through the high rows with one of the bushel baskets. He would pick the corn and we would pack it in the banana boxes. “Now, Jason,” he said. “Mind the edges of the leaves—they’re sharp. I once sliced the palm of my hand clear across, not being careful.” He didn’t have to warn me about the bees. I noticed the hives as we turned into the field.

After a quick drink, I grabbed a basket and plunged in after him. The leaves scratched my arms and face, and the handles on the basket dug into my hands. I can’t believe I wanted to do this, I thought.

When the boxes were finally filled I was scratched, bleeding and exhausted, but I was proud that I had not quit. My strength was not found lacking.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Marriage In a Bottle

In a USA Today article published today I read that scientists are trying to prevent military suicide. In a 50 million dollar study they have discovered that suicide rates increase in combat situations among unmarried soldiers, but not among married ones. I applaud them for their good intentions, but disagree with their thinking. Here is a quote from psychiatrist Ronald Kessler--a contributor to the article:
One of the things we're interested in now is digging into this marriage thing and saying, 'What is it you get, by being married? And how could we put it in a bottle so we can give it to everybody, whether or not they're married?'
I'm sorry, Mr. Kessler, there's nothing you can give me: pill, drink, injection or otherwise that can substitute for my wife, Amy. My guess is that G.I.'s will take the gun away from their heads only if they can be convince that they matter to someone else--someone with real flesh and blood. Do we really need to flush 50 million dollars to figure these things out? I think I'm going to get my kids busy writing letters to soldiers. These heroes need to know they matter to God and us as well.

Link to the USA Today article: http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2011-03-18-1Asuicides18_ST_N.htm