We’ve had some torrential rains lately and our long gravel driveway is showing some wear and tear. I like the expression “gully washers” when referring to the storms that roll through and literally wash away sections of our drive. As we bounce along, returning from a shopping trip to Aldis, it makes it more exciting; navigating around and through some of the deeper cuts caused by the rivers of rain, if I tell my kids, “Boy, that last storm was a real “gully washer!”
My father-in-law seems to enjoy filling in the crevices with larger rocks. Many a sunny day, he will drive over in his John Deere Gator and deliver a load of rocks gathered from our plowed fields. He will patiently place them in the deeper ruts, making it a bit more difficult for the sand and gravel to wash away in the next storm. I appreciate his faithfulness.
Some people may think I’m overly sentimental and hang on too tightly to the past, and now I am finding my children doing the same thing. My older children were commenting on how much they missed the good old days…the 90’s! They went on to say how kids “nowadays” can’t even carry on a conversation, and when kids are hanging out with their friends, they really aren’t together because everyone is on their own tech device. Oh how they missed the days when kids rode bikes around town without a worry, and they were amazed at what a poor work ethic most kids had “nowadays.” Smiling, I mused to myself, “They are sounding like adults.” But I also felt sad and wondered, “Why is it that kids nowadays suffer from what I call soul erosion?”
In my mind’s eye, it is as if so many kids go through gully washers of incredible magnitude and they have nothing solid to keep their very souls from eroding. They get slammed with the storms of divorce, of neglect, of abuse, of lies about God, of lies about themselves to name a few, and then we as a culture are surprised when we see the effects. As I look into the faces of so many people, I see anger, dullness, and sometimes completely vacant expressions. Kids, spending so much of their lives in computer generated, imaginary worlds, or in drug induced, hallucinogenic worlds, that they appear sickly, pale and sometimes even toothless (from using meth,) make my heart ache.
Try as I may, I can not shield my children from every storm that comes along, but I can work hard at placing solid things into the very heart and soul of my own children; things that will help their souls from eroding when the inevitable storms of life hit. Like my father-in-law laying stones in our driveway, it takes time and patience, but hopefully the results will be worth it.
What are some of the stones I’ve deliberately placed? Hmmm… let me see… There is the stone of reminding my children that God is good, in control, and our lives are in His capable hands. There is the stone of remembering our heritage. Great men and women came before us from both my side of the family and my husband’s, so we tell and retell stories from our childhoods. We also read, out loud, the memoirs of several of our loved ones; every one of them tell of God’s faithfulness in hard times. Another stone I love to lay is the stone of reading good books together; books we now all treasure. We read books that are heart warming or epic, books that have characters worth emulating or not emulating, favorites by Beverly Cleary and classics by C.S. Lewis. (We even have fond memories of where we read them!) It is an honor to lay the stone of learning from older people and enjoying conversations with them where ever we go; churches, museums, nursing homes, or even McDonald’s. I love the fact that my 10-year-old can strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere. Another stone that is often overlooked in busy families is just spending time together; whether it be walking in the woods enjoying the beauty God created, playing music, or cooking. (Our latest morning challenge is who can pour the best latte art!) Such everyday stones laid on sunny days, but stones of eternal value.
When I am old, I hope I can look back and know that I did my best; patiently placing stones that will stay with my children when the storms of life threaten to erode their souls, and that they in turn will prepare their children.
I have no greater joy than to be a soul conservationist.