By Lewis Willis
I sat there for almost an hour. I have no recollection of ever having done what I did before. No, not sitting down for an hour, but making the observations which I wish to share with you. Hopefully, there will be something good for the soul in these reflections.
I arrived to speak in a meeting in Shelbyville, Tennessee on Monday, October 16. We had traveled about 60 miles southeast of Nashville. The town is the Tennessee Walking Horse capital of the world. Each year a gathering called “Celebration” brings about 100,000 people to see the selection of the new World Champion walking horse.
But, Shelbyville is a small town of about 15,000 people. I thought how deprived these people were to live in such a small place. I saw no Red Lobster, Olive Garden, or Chi Chi’s restaurants anywhere. But I still was not where I would stay for the week. We drove five or six miles out of town to the country home of brother and sister McCarty with whom I would spend the week. They are fine people, but I was not sure how I would handle a week in the country!
I’m not trying to be snobbish about this. I was born and raised in the country. Certainly, as far out in the country, if not further than I would stay this week. However, since 1956, I have either lived in small towns or large metropolitan areas like Dallas, St. Louis, and Louisville, Kentucky. I’m used to the city, and I like all the things available to us in the city. It is for that reason that I found my thoughts affecting me so strikingly, so surprisingly, when I sat down on the McCarty’s patio that Friday afternoon. A few moments of solitude was just what I needed!
I would describe the countryside as “rolling hills,” not big hills, but certainly not flat. The McCarty home is about 75 yards from the country road, on a small hillside. It is a very lovely home. Extending on up the hillside for about another 50 yards is their backyard. Just beyond their fence stands a grove of hardwood trees. I sat there on the patio for about an hour looking toward that grove of trees. I was surprised at what I saw and heard.
I saw too many mockingbirds to count. I had seen them before be-cause they are the state bird of my home state, Texas. I saw several blue jays and sparrows. Also, several cardinals. I watched as a woodpecker, with a blazing red head, perched near the roofline on the garage, pecking away at what I guess must have been ants. At the same time, I heard another woodpecker, apparently from the grove of trees, pounding away with that distinctive sound woodpeckers make. I became aware of what I was observing when two crows came flying into one of the trees, cawing loudly.
The longer I sat there the more that little world came alive. The sun was doing what the sun is supposed to do; it was ruling the day (Gen. 1:16-18). Its beams lit up the still green lawn and trees. A gentle breeze was blowing, and I was surprised to hear a limb fall to the ground. I’ve seen a lot of fallen limbs in my life; I just can’t remember when I last heard one.
I heard a rooster crow from the home next door, but next door was about 300 or 400 yards away. I also heard the dog barking from down there, and it must have been about something funny because I heard his owner’s rather loud laughter. I could not see it, but I heard a large jet some-where in the distance. The quiet was only occasionally interrupted by the sound of cars passing in front of the house.
There was something therapeutic about this. It was so comforting and fascinating. Still, I was surprised at how it affected me. You see, in the city, we have birds, trees, sun-light and dogs. But we also have noise always cars, trucks, airplanes and such. Sirens from police and fire emergency vehicles sound loudly and frequently, but we city folks tend to tune them out. We sit in our homes where the air conditioners filter out the fumes and smog, but they also filter out the singing of the birds and our view of the trees swaying gently in the breeze. We can drive in minutes to the nearest supermarket and purchase about anything we want. We’re not like those poor country folks who have to drive six or ten miles to a small country grocer who may or may not have what they want. But, on one level, I’m not sure that they have missed that much.
After dinner, I returned to that patio to call Joyce and learn how her day had gone. As we talked, I looked up to the grove of trees and there stood a deer not many feet away. The image is still sealed in my mind.
I thought of the song that we like to sing which begins with this verse:
When we behold the wonders of creation,
The flow’rs that bloom, the raindrops as they fall;
The spacious skies and life’s perpetuation,
We cannot doubt that God controlled it all.
Lord, I believe, yes, I believe,
I cannot doubt or be deceived;
The eye that sees each sparrow fall,
His unseen hand is in it all.
A. W. Dicus
The music of that song in my mind was the perfect accompaniment to the scenes which I saw and heard. Like a movie scene, it seems etched in my mind days later. I’m reminded of the observations of David. He said, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God’ (Psa. 90:2). He also wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork” (Psa. 19:1). Sometimes the most profound of truths convey themselves to us in the simplest of ways a quiet, serene, pure and beautiful scene from the patio of a country home.
Make no mistake about it; I like the city. I like spaghetti dinners and large supermarkets. I like the freeways and noise. But it was refreshing to the soul to behold the wonders of creation. I am either growing insightful, or very old!
Guardian of Truth XL: 12 p.
June 20, 1996