Saturday, November 24, 2007

Worlds Intersected

The phone messages from him began arriving at the start of a very long and busy day; the first was waiting for me when I arrived at the office.

The message told of finding someone living on the street and how they needed help. “Please call back,” the slightly quivery voice said, “I’ll be out on the tractor, but you can ask my wife to call me on the two way radio and I’ll come in.”

For the rest of the day we played the familiar game of “Phone Tag.” I was out when he called me and when I called him back I got the answering machine. His messages sounded increasingly urgent.

Towards the end of the day a woman answered the phone. “I was down doing eggs,” she said, “Father is out in the fields. I can try to reach him but I doubt he’ll hear the radio over the sound of the tractor.”

I told her that I was working late and that he could call me whenever he got in. Before I hung up the phone, I asked about the farm. She told me that “Father” was 84 and still farming 400 acres. “He always wanted a farm and he bought it when he came back from the war,” she said. Apparently there was a North Farm, South Farm and the Home Farm on the land.

The woman said with a little laugh, “I’m a town girl that went country,” and it was obvious that she loved the life and was happy to still be working side by side with “Father” after sixty years.

I worked on in my office as evening grew dark, while the wind blew rain that was fast turning to sleet past my window. My car, in the parking lot across the road, was gathering its first winter coating of ice.

We finally connected. He’d been out in the fields, working against time, bringing in things before the bad weather hit.

In between gathering information about the young man he’d called about, I learned more about the farm and just as his wife called him "Father," he called her "Mother."

It was obvious as I listened to him and the deep emotion in his voice, that he had a heart of compassion for people who were lost in one way or another, and a deep faith in God. He said it had always been the way on the farm to take in people in need of a place to stay, almost like stray animals. “You’d come in after dark and never know who you’d find sleeping on the floor,” he said.

I was touched by his concern for the young friend he’d found on the street. He reminded me of an older version of Paul. “I am married to a man with a heart like yours,” I told him.

“Then you’re lucky,” he said, strangely without a trace of pride--he was just a plain and honest farmer telling me a fact…and I knew that he was right.

Worlds intersected that night; I in my office, deluged in an avalanche of paperwork; he working hard against the clock, bringing in bales of hay; both of us part of the family of God and really working for another world all together.


Dave Hingsburger said...

OK, you've got me curious, what's happened to the kid on the street?? I love stories like this.

Belinda said...

It turned out that he was no longer on the street, although that was where the man had met him. He was in a group home for people with mental health needs (his diagnosis was Schizophrenia). The farmer--"shepherd" was still very concerned and wanted him to be helped by our faith based agency. Although the list of people with huge needs is long, and it sounded as if his needs could be better met in the mental health system, we decided to explore as far as we could in our direction.

I'm so glad you liked the story. That's a great compliment from a man who is one of my favourite story tellers!