Growing up in the sixties, my family struggled to make ends meet for just the basic necessities of living. Our home was small and we had one car for the longest time and my parents controlled costs by rationing everything. People that lived through the depression were very familiar with this practice and my parents transferred that way of living onto their five children. We were expected to work together to ensure the family functioned well in every way possible. My mother repeatedly told stories of what had happened and how they managed in her youth to survive. We understood life could be hard and unkind and yet in the mist of that turmoil, our family, was expected and determined to do the best we could and to be kind to others.
In the fall during the potato harvest time, we would gather used burlap sacks, load up the car and drive out into the country where my father had heard the fields that would be harvested that day. Our family watched the large machines go back and forth in the field turning the ground over while the potatoes were separated onto the conveyor belt leading to the load trailer. We would wait at the end of the field while my father asked to speak with the person in charge. He would grant permission and assign us a location for us to dig. The machines would have already made a pass through this section of the field well into the far side away from everyone that would be searching the soil by hand.
Upon receiving permission, we would take off our shoes and line up side-by-side on our hands and knees sharing a burlap sack between two siblings. With each of us digging down deep searching for the potatoes the machine had missed, each person worked a span of about four to five feet wide. The search soon turned into a competition for who could find the most potatoes so each potato was announced with joy. And yes, we often compared size when a large potato was found. This competition caused us work much faster and time went by quickly without dread. We usually covered about six rows in the field to fill two to three large burlap sacks full as possible. Depending on the soil moisture content, our arms and legs could be covered in dirt sticking to our skin or we would be very dusty as we stood up. In either case, we were a site to see, yet we had pride in completing the necessary task that would help sustain our family. Needless to say, we had potatoes every night for dinner. My personal favorite dinner serving was thinly cut and fried potatoes to a golden brown.
This one event would be beneficial to the family every evening at dinner time that would last into late spring early summer time. But life’s interaction with those that operate on a different level would have an everlasting effect upon our family. One harvest season we showed up at the field and waited for permission to dig our assigned location. I stood there and listened to the man over the harvest tell my father that they were no longer letting people into the field at any time. It was because some people took advantage of entering the field without permission and harvested where the machines had not yet past. I’ll never forget the disappointing look on my father’s face as he stood in silence overlooking the field. The look of disappointment turned into worry and wonder of what to do next. He did not look at us as he turned to the car. We just followed in silence which lasted the entire trip home. This one experience taught me the “Cause and Effect” life may bring our way. It is a principle far more powerful than most people ever realize and one I try not to forget that despite all of these we should have our Christian Walk and Journey with Him.