When looking at where our country presently sits, I wonder why there aren’t more people showing concern for what is happening. Then I ask myself, why do I care so much? Well, a few weeks ago part of the answer came to me on my drive home from work after a twelve hour shift in the emergency room where I work as a nurse.
There are two main routes to my home from this hospital. One, a very busy four lane road with numerous stoplights, but fairly nice options for food pick-up, including some of the best rotisserie chicken around. The other path is a very curvy, hilly, back country road that traverses beautiful farmland and woods. This particular evening was absolutely perfect with a cloudless sky, warm breeze, and the sun preparing to set. Needless to say, I chose the country road over the chicken.
Numerous times when making my way to the car after work I considered how fortunate I am to have health and strength. I am around sick or injured patients on a regular basis. Issues in my life that seem insurmountable at times frequently become minuscule when compared to their circumstances. This is not to say I always feel empathy for individuals visiting the ER. Many are there because of choices made to habitually abuse their bodies. Even in many of these cases there is an underlying reason, usually to anesthetize psychological pain or fill a spiritual void.
As a nurse you are occasionally present at extremely stressful and life-changing events. I have stood in small hospital rooms on numerous occasions as patients and families are told of the presence of a cancerous mass, or distressing news that will change their lives forever. I am allowed into some of the most intimate settings, and can become an immediate advocate for someone I may have just recently met. Not every day is heavy, but some days I look so forward to getting out in the fresh air, away from the pain and sickness.
Driving home that night was something I won’t forget for a long time. As is my custom when taking the scenic way, if someone is in front of me, I audibly will turn off and head another direction. I want to have the road all to myself so as to enjoy driving as fast as I can around the curves. This night, I was alone, no one behind me, no one ahead, excellent. As I enjoyed the trip I couldn’t help but notice the dual smell of fresh cut hay and honeysuckle. That, coupled with the sun setting on the Blue Ridge Mountains was enough to take me back to memories of my childhood on my grandparents’ farm in Botetourt County.
There were four children in my family, and when I was 6 years old my parents built a home on the end of my maternal grandparents’ one hundred and fifty acre cattle farm. My uncle and his family also built right next to us, so we had three cousins we grew up with as well. My siblings and I all remember the hay making season which lasted all summer long. Back then my granddaddy had a square hay bailer, not one of the big fancy round bailers. So members of both families would follow the bailer, stack the hay in big piles which would then be loaded on the back of our 1971 Chevy farm truck.
This truck was Caribbean blue and obviously had been painted in the spray-can fashion. Seriously, over the top of the hood was the name, Blue Demon, painted in white. This was one of the first vehicles I was allowed to drive before I got my license. It had the gear shift on the steering column and wow, did I think I was cool being able to drive that through the field. After we loaded the truck, I used to crawl way up to the top of the stacked hay for a ride to the barn. There were several barns, but my favorite was the largest that was the one closest to the farmhouse. Below it were the feeding mangers where the cows congregated in the evenings. Making it here meant we were close to being finished.
Sometimes at the end of that long, hot day we would go swimming or get ice cream. I don’t remember complaining about not being able to do more. My dad may differ with me on that note but one thing is for sure, the ache of my body at the end of the day proved I’d worked hard. The bottom line was that it felt good. I carry the lessons of those days growing up on the farm to this day.
The smell of the fresh cut hay reminds me of what America is partially about, and what seems to be missing in so many people today. The pride and self-satisfaction that comes from working physically hard, the enjoyment of simple pleasures, and family. When the government doles out welfare for so many able bodied individuals, it is flat-out stealing the opportunity to experience the American dream. Therefore we are producing generations of people who have never experienced times in their lives of self-sufficiency. Sadly, many haven’t had someone teach them this country is the greatest in the world and has only earned that title by the grace of Almighty God.
So, I guess I’m not surprised at the lack of concern or the apparent apathy of so many Americans in response to the full frontal assault on our freedoms, religious liberty, and culture. What I would like to do is encourage those of you who are wide awake to the precarious situation in which we now find ourselves. Speak out about your experiences to others about the America that makes your heart swell with emotion when you hear the Star Spangled Banner. Tell stories to young people about America’s philanthropy to countless millions of people in other countries during times of disaster. Talk openly about your faith, for it is what will guide them through the tough times of life. Above all, don’t be silent.