Tag Archives: stories

“Oh, Adam…”

Stockton,_California__Weeding_celery_field_on_industrialized_ranch_in_the_Delta_region,_prior_to_ev_______-_NARA_-_537592

We’ve started a new chapter in our lives around here.  We have moved Connor to the big bed – no backing out this time.  Today, I spent 3 1/2 hours trying to get him to stay in bed and take a nap.  During that time, alone, he woke up his baby brother from his nap twice.  Suffice it to say I’ve had better days.

As I was washing dishes tonight, I was lamenting how stressful this day has been, and after bouncing around dozens of thoughts and nearly letting the tears flow a few times, I was reminded of a story I heard at some point as a kid.  It’s about a farmer and his farm hand, and I thought I would relay it here for you to read.  Just something to ponder on as you go through your day.

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There was once a poor farm hand who worked for a rich land owner.  The farm hand had worked hard his entire life on other men’s lands, growing their crops, and, inevitably, growing their bank accounts.  Through all of his work, however, he was never able to get ahead.  He just barely scraped by, unable to provide any more than the absolute necessities for his family, and sometimes not even that.  As the years passed, his hands grew more calloused, his back more stooped, his feet and legs more sore.  His employer, however, was able to buy more land, hire more farm hands, and spend more time inside his recently upgraded and enlarged home.  The farm hand was in the fields day in and day out, from sun up to sun down, and in every kind of weather.  He was weary.

One particularly hot summer day, as he sat in the shade of an old oak tree eating his meager lunch of left-over mashed potato cakes and water, he conversed with his fellow farm hands.  One of the younger men, a newly-wed, talked of his big plans to save as much of his paltry wages as he could and eventually buy his own piece of land – to become his own man.  The poor farm hand remembered having those same thoughts a good twenty years before, and at once, he felt sorry for his young co-worker and resentful at his own lot in life.

Lunch ended, and as the man headed back to the field with his canvas bag slung diagonally across his chest to pick more green beans among the buzzing wasps, he began to ponder why he had to work so hard for so little.  The thoughts consumed his mind as he worked for the rest of the day.  At long last, he came to the conclusion that it was simply because life is not fair.  Why is life not fair, he lamented in his mind as he walked the mile to his two-room house, crowded with him, his wife, and their four children.  It was a thought that he turned over and over for the next several days.  He was finally forced to admit that life was not fair because there was sin in the world.  Life-long Sunday school lessons had taught him that sin had entered the world through the act of one man and his wife several millennia before he was born.

Once the man had reached that conclusion, a new mantra was constantly on his lips as he worked:  “Oh, Adam!  Oh, Adam!  Oh, Adam!”  With each whack of his hoe to a weed, “Oh, Adam!”  With each pull of a vegetable from a vine, “Oh, Adam!”  With each slice of his spade into the earth, “Oh, Adam!”

After a few weeks, the land owner heard the man’s mantra.  The foreman said he didn’t know what the man meant by it but that he had noticed the man saying it.  After several more days, the land owner called the man to his office and asked him why he was saying “Oh, Adam!”  The man felt a bit sheepish for a moment, but then, noticing the land owners austere office space with fresh paint, plush rugs, a book-lined wall, an ornate, hand-crafted desk, and other trappings of great wealth brought about by his own poor, work-worn hands, he felt that old resentment and bitterness rise up.  He told the land owner of all the hard work that he did each day and how he never was able to get even, let alone ahead in life.  He complained of how he worked in the dead heat of summer and the bone-chilling cold of winter and everything in between.  He complained of the pain that his body felt all day, each and every day.  And, at last, he told the land owner of how he had reached the conclusion that if only Adam hadn’t sinned in the Garden, then he would not be working his life away for nothing all these thousands of years later.

The land owner studied the farm hand in silence for several minutes.  Finally, he said, “When you get here in the morning, I want you to come meet me on the porch first thing.  I will speak to the foreman, so do not delay in meeting with me.  I think I have a solution for your problem, but I will need the rest of the day to prepare it.  Now, please, go finish out your work day.”  The farm hand agreed to the land owner’s vague plan and went back to work.  The next morning, he did just as he was told and met the land owner on the porch of the house.  The land owner was sitting on a plush armchair with a small spindly table sitting beside it.  On the table, there was a plain wooden box, a pitcher of sweet tea, and an empty glass.  The land owner stood as the man came up the porch steps and greeted him with a handshake.  “Come, let me explain my plan,” he said.

As they walked toward the chair, the land owner said, “I have decided that since you are having so much pain and discomfort from the conditions of your work, that I will allow you earn your pay by simply sitting in this chair each day, all day, enjoying some tea, reading books, taking naps, whatever relaxing activity you wish.  You may have the chair moved from the porch to inside the parlor if the weather does not suit you, and at lunch, you will be welcome to eat what my house servants eat.  They have instructions to bring it to you for you to eat from your chair or you may go eat in the kitchen with them, if you please.  I will also have my driver come pick you up each morning and take you back home each evening.  And as an added bonus, I am even doubling your pay.”

The farm hand could hardly believe his ears.  It was a dream come true, to earn money and not work.  To rest, to eat, to be out of the weather, to do nothing and earn twice what all his hard work earned him.  “What is the catch?” he asked his boss.

“Catch?  There is no catch.  There is a condition, however,” answered the land owner.  “You see this box here on the table?”

The man nodded.  “Yes, sir.”

“You must not ever open it, under any circumstances.”  The land owner looked the farm hand in the eye.  “I will know if you do.  And, if you do open the box, everything will go as it was before:  You will come to work and go home on your own.  You will work in the fields, bringing your own lunch.  Your pay will return to its normal rate.  And you will never again utter the phrase, ‘Oh, Adam!’  Do you agree to my terms?”

“How long will you allow me these luxuries?” asked the farm hand.

“For as long as you keep the box closed,” answered the land owner.  “Are you in agreement?”

The farm hand studied the land owner.  The man was known to be honest, a tough employer, but honest, and he seemed to be playing no tricks now.  He slowly held out his hand and agreed.  One signed contract later, and the farm hand was sipping sweet tea on the land owner’s porch.  He leaned back in the chair, closed his eyes, and said to himself, “Finally, my ship has come in.  I’ll sit on this porch the rest of my life.  Not open a box…Ha!  How could I fail?”

The first week of his new “duties” was a cinch.  He hardly thought of the box on the table.  No matter where he had his chair placed for the day, the little table and box followed.  He enjoyed warm, filling lunches from the kitchen staff each day and was never short on tea or even cold water or hot coffee, if he preferred.  He read the newspaper each day, enjoyed naps, and even made a list of what all he would do with all the money he had coming to him.  His wife was suspicious of this development in his job, but she would be convinced of his good fortune with time.  He couldn’t blame her hesitation; life had been hard for a long time.  Each day, the land owner would stop by for a few minutes and visit with man, making small talk and asking him how he was enjoying his new life.  The man had no complaints.

The second week, the man found himself feeling a bit bored from time to time, but he just started bringing books to read and blank paper to write. This kept his mind busy for a couple of months.  And he hardly ever thought about the box that sat beside him day after day.  However, he eventually became bored with reading, and he turned to writing.  He sat an entire morning, one day, trying to come up with an idea to write about with no success.  However, when his lunch was brought to him, the box caught his eye.  I could write a story about what is in the box, he thought.

Soon, the box was consuming his thoughts.  He would write page after page, each day, on stories about the box and its mysterious contents.  Each day was a different story:  a box of money, a box of jewels, a box of love letters, a box of the land owner’s will, a box of human hair and finger nail clippings, even a story about a box of air.  The man would hold the box, feeling its weight, his fingers detailing every bump, groove, and smooth surface of the box.  He would gently shake it, put his ear to it, even sniff it.  Before long, he had abandoned his stories and spent his days inspecting and thinking about the box.  He wanted to know what was in the box.  It became all he thought about.  He dreamt of the box.  He spoke of nearly nothing except the box.  He could get no hints from the land owner of its contents, only reminders that if it were to be opened, he would know.

Three and a half months after signing the contract with the land owner, the farm hand had had enough.  He sat on the porch in his arm chair with the box on his lap for the umpteenth time and said to himself, “Just one peak.  The boss will never know.”  He glanced up and down the porch.  He looked out to the fields behind the house.  No one was around.  No one was watching.  He lifted the box up to his face and very slowly eased up the hinged lid a tiny crack.  It was too dark to see inside, so he lifted the lid further and further.  He had it half-way open when suddenly his nose was accosted by a large monarch butterfly escaping from the box.  He immediately dropped the box and lunged toward the butterfly, but it was fast.  It flew to the ceiling of the porch.  The man jumped to catch it.  It fluttered frantically towards the open air beyond the porch.  The man made one last dive towards it, his fingers missing it by inches, and doing a painful belly flop onto ground just past the porch.

The land owner heard the ruckus and came rushing out to check on the man.  The man was winded and stiff, but unhurt, unless you counted his ego.  Once the land owner was satisfied the man was okay, he turned to see the empty box on the porch floor.  “Hmm…I see you opened the box.  It would seem you’re no better than Adam was all those years ago in the Garden.  Your crew is in the western fields.  Get your hoe from the shed and see your foreman for your assignment.”  The land owner reentered the house without looking back, and the farm hand got to his feet and slowly trudged to the tool shed.  Never again did the farm hand complain of his lot in life or blame Adam for how unfair his life felt.

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I did embellish this story some.  I have no idea who originally came up with it, nor do I remember who told it to me.  I just find it useful for keeping perspective.

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The Back Yard “Fence”

This was, essentially, the fence in our back yard, except that until this afternoon, it was all standing.  Leaning severely, but standing.  Then the wind blew, and this happened.  My husband and I have been waiting for this fence to come down for quite some time, and now part of it finally has.  You see, we would have taken care of it, but we rent our little home, and our landlord said he would take it down soon after we moved in.  That was in September.  Yeah, we gave up hope on that months ago, but we also didn’t have much inclination to do anything with it (for several reasons), except wait for it to fall.  Therefore, we try to advise people not to park near it, and we don’t either.  So other than the fence, no harm was done today.

Well, once it fell, we had to do something.  Being the not-so-industrial-inclined people that we are, pretty much the only tools we had for the job were two cheap, wimpy hammers and our own ingenuity.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my husband dearly – truly I do – and he does have an engineering degree, but sometimes he just doesn’t think these type of jobs through.  I don’t have any kind of engineering anything, but my dad is a great carpenter.  He basically built a two-story house around a single-wide trailer while I was growing up.  (In fact, it’s still an on-going project.)  But I’ve helped him out with several little things and kinda have a sense of how structures are built.  (That’s not to say that you want me to draw up the blue prints for your next project – don’t get me wrong.)  Anyhow, there we were, two stubborn, aggravated people, with a wimpy  hammer each, trying to tear apart part of a “fence” that has had several patch-work attempts at securing it a little better over the years.  Sometimes with screws, sometimes with nails, sometimes with two-by-fours, sometimes with nothing better than your basic stick.  It was not pretty, to say the least.

However, after about a half an hour of fussing, beating, yanking, pulling, dragging, and just flat savage-like yells of aggravation, we managed to accomplish two things:  a pile of old “fence” wood and an empty space where part of a “fence” once stood.

And we still made it to church on time!  😀

           

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The Shroud

I wrote this story and it’s companion poem in 2006.  Both of them are titled “The Shroud.”

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(STORY)

It’s Sunday morning – early Sunday morning.  So early, in fact, that the sun is just beginning to peak over the horizon.  It’s still dark in the west, even.  It’s a quiet morning, but not just any quiet.  Somewhat like an anticipating silence, as if it’s waiting on something – something big!  Something so huge that it will change everything that you’ve ever known!  It’s almost an excited quiet, and you resent that.  You resent that because you and your companions are walking toward the tomb of a man whose body you all are going to properly prepare for burial.  You think the quiet should be in mourning, such as you yourself are.

Suddenly, as you are walking along, carrying your tray of perfumes and oils, the earth beneath you begins to move!  It’s as if the ground has turned into the sea, and you are trying to walk on it!  It’s rolling and shaking.  It eventually knocks you to the ground, where your bottles of perfume and oil shatter, spilling the precious liquids.  Your companions are knocked down, too, each of you scraping your knees and hands on the rough and rocky ground beneath you.

Struggling, you finally manage to stand up and take a few shaky steps toward the tomb.  You have one thing on your mind:  Get to the tomb!  You have to know if this earthquake has caved in the final resting place of the greatest man you have ever known.

Then, just as you come to the last bend in the path to the tomb, the earth quits its quaking.  Everything stops and is silent once more.  Only this time the silence is full of joy, as if the anticipated event has occurred and the entire world is in awe of its happening.  Unconcerned with the world’s wonder and still desperate to know whether your beloved Savior’s body was crushed by falling rock, you frantically run around the final bend and into the clearing where the tomb is located.

Upon entering the clearing, the first thing you notice is the guards – they appear to be dead!  Fearful that they are and that you would be accused of their murder you rush to them to check for signs of life.  To your relief, you discover that they are simply knocked out.  As you let out a sigh, you hear a gasp behind you.  Quickly you turn and see your companions staring at the tomb – the open tomb.  You do not understand why the entrance is not being guarded by the enormous stone that had been placed there to keep The Brothers out.  Deciding that it must have been the earthquake that did it, you glance at your companions, and all of you silently decide to step inside the holy sepulcher.  As you hold each others’ hands, you all quietly and fearfully walk to the unguarded entrance.

It’s dark inside, and one by one, you and your companions enter the cave-like room.  A shock wave goes through you as you notice the white, radiant being inside.  Though you are in awe of his beauty, you tremble with fear.  Then, he begins to speak clearly yet softly.  “Fear not!  He that you seek is not here.”

At this you start.  You feel anger well up inside you.  “Where is He?” you demand.

The being calmly looks at you and answers, “He is risen, just as he said.  Now go and tell The Brothers they are to meet Him in Galilee.”

The beautiful being then vanishes as if he was never there to begin with.  You and your companions share a shocked look before you once more turn your attention to the tomb you are in.  You cannot help but think that you are dreaming, so you search the room for signs of the body.  It’s possible that it may have fallen off the stone shelf during the earthquake.  You look in all of the corners and around the floor, but to your dismay you find nothing.

Finally, you look back to the shelf where he was laid to rest, and that’s when you see it.  Its head piece folded and the rest lying out flat on the stone.  It was once white, but now, it is stained with dried blood.  You start to weep at the sight because you know it is a sign of His resurrection.  Closing your eyes, you silently thank God above that you only found His shroud.

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(POEM)

The blood-stained linen:

A stark reminder

Of His suffering and ridicule,

Of His ever-so-powerful death.

An outline of His body

No longer there.

An imprint of the life –

Of the death –

Of the greatest man

To ever walk the earth.

A picture of His pain

Left behind

Like the death

He defeated.

A proof of what once was

And no longer is.

Left lying on a stone shelf

In an open tomb.

For what need has a living man

Of burial cloths?

Why should it leave the place

Where He no longer lies?

His pain is over,

And His death is ended.

His shroud –

Left in that tomb to show

He is risen, just as He said.

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Meet Moe

This is a little story I wrote about the sock monkey that came with my in-laws’ new car.  I had just gotten a new phone with a camera and was having some fun.  Then I got the bright idea to write stories to go with the pictures, but since every picture is worth a thousand words, the stories had to have at least 1,000 words.  This one has exactly 1,100.  I hope you enjoy it!

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This is Moe.  Moe is a sock monkey, but he doesn’t know it.  Moe thinks he is a person and wants to experience all the adventures he can.  He was taken to a house one day with a family who had just bought a new car.  He was given his own room with a very big bed and a very bright clock.  He liked his room, but he began to wonder what he was supposed to do, since he was living with this family.  So Moe began to watch them.  He learned what people do normally.  He decided since they all were doing those things and no one was doing anything else, he should do those things too.  This meant he was a person.

Moe is a happy sock monkey.  He always smiles no matter the difficulty of the adventure.  His first adventure was a simple one, though.  He woke up on his very big bed the first morning after he had been brought to the house, and he decided to go see the rest of the house.  Therefore, he had to figure out how to get off his very big bed.  He crawled to the side and looked down.  It looked like a very long way down.  There were two big posts on the end of the bed, though.  Moe crawled to the end of the bed and looked at one of the big posts.  He could swing around it!  Moe looped his arms around the post and jumped.  It was like sliding down a spiral slide!

THUD!  Ow, thought Moe.  He had hit the floor flat on his bottom.  Moe stood up and rubbed his bottom.  He looked back up at the very big bed.  It was very tall, and maybe there was better way to get down, even if that had been a fun swing.  But he was down now and was ready to get out the door.

Moe looked at the door.  There was a gap at the bottom.  He reached down, grabbed it and pulled as hard as he could.  Nothing happened.  He pulled again.  Nothing happened.  He pulled one more time.  Nothing happened.

Moe looked at the door again.  Maybe he could crawl under it.  He lay down on the floor and pushed his arms through the gap.  He got his arms through, but he couldn’t get his head or belly through at all, no matter how much he sucked his belly in and tilted his head.

Moe pulled his arms out from under the door and stood back up.  He looked at the door again. There had to be some way out.  Then he looked up.  There was some kind of round handle thing way up the door.  It was higher than the bed!  If that was how he could get the door open (and Moe figured it was), how was he ever going to reach it?

Moe finally decided to jump as high as he could and maybe he would reach it.  He squatted all the way down and wiggled his bottom to get his all his jumping juices in his legs.  Then Moe jumped as hard as he could.  But he didn’t even come close to touching the round handle.  Moe jumped three more times, but he never got any closer.  Moe slumped his shoulders and looked around the room.

That’s when Moe saw it:  a chair!  He ran to the other end of the bed and grabbed a hold of one of the legs and pulled with all his might. Like the door, the chair didn’t even budge.  Moe was getting frustrated, and he pulled and yanked and tugged over and over and over again.  But the chair never moved.

Moe sat down and huffed.  How would he ever get the door open?  He looked at the bed.  If he could push it over to the door, then he would be high enough to get the door open.   But if he couldn’t get the chair to move, there was no way he could get the bed to move.

Then Moe remembered how he had swung around the post at the end of the bed.  What if he jumped from the post to the handle?  That sounded like a perfect idea to Moe.  Now he just had to get back on the bed.  Moe looked up at the chair.  It was a little tall, but he thought he would be able to climb on it, and then he could definitely jump over onto the bed.  So, he reached as high as he could and grabbed onto the edge of the seat and jumped.  He managed to get on the chair!  He ran and jumped again, and he was on the bed!  Finally something was working!

Moe walked down to the end of the bed and started trying to stand on the bed post.  It was really slick, and his cotton feet would not stop sliding on the top of the round post.  At last, though, he managed to stand upright on the post.  Very carefully he squatted just a little and jumped across to the door handle and grabbed onto it.  He dangled there for a moment trying to decide what to do next, but while he was deciding he realized that what he thought was a handle was actually a knob.  Maybe he would have to twist it to make the door open.  How was he going to do that?  Then, he got an idea.

Moe started swinging back and forth like a pendulum, slowly at first, then faster.  He went back and forth until he swung all the way around and twisted the knob.  Sure enough, the door opened!  Moe had done it!  He was so excited that he swung around the knob one more time before hopping back to the floor.

Moe walked out the door of the bedroom and into the hallway.  There was a room in front of him, two beside him, and at least one on the other side of him.  He wanted desperately to see it all.  It all looked so fun and new!

Moe yawned, and it was very big yawn.  Moe decided to sit down for a moment to rest.  As soon as he sat down, he closed his eyes for just a moment and fell fast asleep.  All the adventure of just trying to just get out of the bed room had tuckered him clean out.  Poor Moe doesn’t know that he’s only a sock monkey.

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