The first weekend of the statewide shelter-in-place order was a busy one. Old timers target Good Friday for planting and this year I am ready.
My vegetable garden is neatly plowed and all set for plants and seeds that will soon follow.
Having inherited my dad’s 50-year-old Massey Ferguson tractor, I used it to prepare the soil. I think of him as I plow the same spot over and over again, apparently trying to justify such a large tractor for a small garden space or perhaps escaping the news as I focus on something other than the latest death count.
It is intriguing that using lawnmowers and tractors allow us to forget the world for a moment.
Last year, a full moon arose just as I finished plowing my little garden. The beauty of that spring evening caused me to at least consider that Dad was pleased that I cared for and used his old tractor.
Few understand the power of a hand-me-down tractor or shotgun. When we touch those relics we inevitably think of the former owners.
I am apparently an open book to family members who know I love most anything old and especially family related. Instead of calling junk removal companies, they bring the unwanted, the misfits, and the “what in the world is that?” to me.
My outbuilding is filled with horse drawn plow implements, a 70-plus year old tractor, corn shellers, scythes, old black pots and other items that I will never use. But they remind me of family and different times.
Right now we all want to think of different times. Like when we could go to a restaurant or grocery store without summoning every ounce of courage we have.
My hands are chapped not just from garden and yard work but from constant washing and application of hand sanitizer. I long mightily to shake someone’s hand or just to hug somebody who really needs it.
I read my Bible more intensely and hunger to go to church once again. I worry about our churches, which like businesses will struggle to survive in these odd times. I know the experts and government officials are doing all they can and likely we’ll soon hear partisan bickering over what could have been done better or sooner, but for now, I just long to hear that this will be over and that we’ll be alright.
We are forever altered as we observe how fragile our world and we really are. Yet there is a God given spirit among us to care for one another, to pray for one another, to know that something better is in our future.
We are starkly reminded how much family, friends and comradery matter to all of us. When we find how helpless we really are, our faith becomes real and much more tangible. Maybe that is what this is all about, an awakening that money, politics and our lifestyles mean so little and those things that matter — faith, family and each other are a lot more important than we ever thought.
There are a lot of tasks that can be completed when you are bored out of your mind. I have scrubbed, shaved, clipped, organized and yet much remains to be done. Two pair of hunting boots have been out of place in our laundry room for much too long.
My wife has been patient as I procrastinated about scrubbing miry North Dakota clay and Franklin County, Georgia mud from those boots. Finally both sets of boots are clean but as I scrubbed, I wondered if I would ever hunt again.
Recently, I have wondered if my business will survive, and what will happen to my employees and my children during this time.
I have wondered too about those two grandchildren who will be born this summer. What kind of world will they live in? Will it be a world of fear and distancing? Will they learn trust and warmth? Will they dream?
Will they learn to appreciate an old plowshare that their great-great granddad used?
Will they love tractors and warm spring days when the smell of freshly turned soil opens one’s heart and mind to what can be?
The answer is yes, they will. We will get through this time. God has obtained our undivided attention and to those who blame Him and even those that don’t, get ready for something marvelous to happen. It is difficult to understand how someone who doesn’t believe in God can blame Him. Just saying.
Every once in a while something happens that gives us perspective, that scares the bejesus out of us and at the same time inspires us. Those events remind us that that there is something bigger than ourselves.
We are living in such a time and I choose to count it a blessing for we will see what few have ever seen. I believe the world will share and rejoice in a great victory and God will be glorified.
We must however decide if we are hoarders or heroes. We must also decide if we are creatures of fear or faith. I think the choice is pretty clear.
And really, what do you need with all that toilet paper and spaghetti sauce anyway?
Phill Bettis is an attorney with Bettis Law Group in Forsyth County.