I am not sure if anything can quite compare to walking in a pasture in your bare feet. No fear of stickers or hot sand; just that cool, sweet crunch of clover and short grass.
However, getting to the pasture was always a bit of a challenge growing up for us barefoot kids. Having quick feet and a towel to stand on, helped get to the halfway point. Or if you were lucky, a generous older brother would take you up piggy-back style.
But, if you could manage to reach the top of the hill and squeeze through the fence, an oasis of green cool grass awaited you.
We kids could dip our feet in the irrigation ditch or find a muddy spot so that the cool squishy mud could take away the burn of the hot sands.
Obviously, the pastures of yesterday are not like the ones that we see now. Most of the shovel and dam irrigating with furrowed rows are gone and sprinkler pipes and wheel irrigation have taken their place.
The freedom of choice was always evident on those summer days as well as the knowledge of the hazards too. Stubbed toes, stickers and burning hot sand were only a few things that gave a kid pause for thought.
Growing up,farm and ranch life meant work and responsibility. Early mornings were for chores, haying and irrigating. Afternoons were spent finding the coolest shady spot or best swimming hole. And when the sun went down, chores needed to be done all over again.
We never watched all that much TV in the summer because there was always something outside to do. An evening wade in the nearby ditch or a run through the yard sprinkler. Hide and Seek or other games were quite popular.
Guests knew to bring their sleeping bags because we all slept out under the stars and let the night sounds of frogs, coyotes. The wind would create music with the trees and lull us all to a peaceful slumber.
It was easier for me to talk to God out in the fields as I changed irrigation pipes. I never got worried about being in the dark, although I never wanted to encounter a toad or frog. The shadows of the sagebrush in the moonlight never made me feel afraid.
There wasn't always a sense of contentment as you got older. Town-life had a great pull on a teenager's heartstrings. Isn't funny how we always think that someone else's life seems more exciting and better than our own?
Sometimes I long for my grandkids to experience a summer like those I grew up with. To sleep out under the stars and hear the sounds that the trees make as a gentle breeze blows through their branches. In fact, I would wish that freedom for all our young ones.
To have a sense of wonder that doesn't require batteries or the internet. To witness for themselves the experience of fishing in a mountain stream or walk the mountain trails.
By having those character-building experiences of farm life; bucking bales of hay, herding cows and riding horses. Even cleaning up a horse stall or two.
Our family never had much ready cash money or the newest pick-up. But we did have great adventures every day when the work was done.
Like a preacher kid, I believe that farm kids pull away at some point to prove that they are sophisticated and worldly. Or the feeling that they have missed out on something that seemed more exciting or rewarding.
Some of us stay behind and make good lives in the communities that we grew up in. They have no desire to seek out the shiny bright lights of the city. Others dedicate their lives to public service in some way. And a few take extra years to reconcile their hearts to their childhood experiences.
A special spirit will always remain inside us regarding those hot summer days of work and fun. We might find ourselves residing in the city and locking our doors at night while wishing for the safety of those summer nights.
Life does not mean that everyone has to be in the same place and do the same things. Wouldn't it be more interesting if we changed places once in a while and saw how the other side lived.
It is not guaranteed that every child who grew up on a farm or ranch will become a stellar citizen. Nor can you predict that a disadvantaged child will remain in projects and depend on welfare.
The desire to do good things for yourself and others comes from a special spirit within you. We don't always recognize it as such and sadly some of us never take advantage of that "boost".
As a young adult, I poured over self-help books to save my marriage, or understand my purpose in life. While there might always a nugget or two of truth, we run into the danger of being stuck with only one idea instead of moving on to the next clue in our walk in life.
Walking in Green Pastures is not a given in life, but a goal. Sometimes, we have to experience the short trail of adversity before we finally reach the top of the hill. We also at times require a towel placed on the trail to cool our feet or a piggy-back ride for part of the way.
No matter where you grew up or the circumstances; Green Pastures are available to everyone who seek to discover them.
We cannot allow others to make us feel despair or to say that the Green Pastures offered to us is a myth. Instead, I would suggest that we keep pulling out the stickers from our feet and keep moving forward.
Focus on the promise of the cool green pasture just ahead. The water runs free & cool and a peaceful place to rest.