The Reflecting Pool

The Reflecting Pool

Essay #1, “Be patient” James 5:7

 Dr.Howard Hendrix was quoted on Weekend Magazine of Focus on the Family, “You never know how well you have done in rearing your children till you see how your grandchildren turn out in life,” and I might add, “How they rear your great grandchildren.”  How often I have said, “God teaches you patience by sending you children.”

  A couple of summers ago, I needed, in the heat of a July day, to drive past El Paso on mission business. Using the words of the writer of Proverbs, “two things I hate, yea three,” then I would list the two things: One, my hair blowing around when I need a hair cut, and two, wearing a hat.  I was driving the Mazda that day. It had, at that time, nearly 400,000 miles on it. Jeannie still likes to drive it because of the mileage. The A/C had long since quit working.  I knew I would be driving with the windows down, and I put on a hated ball cap.  It was a good choice; it was one given to me by SAEM.  I crunched the hat down over my hair, rolled the windows down, turned the radio to max, and was off on a 170 mile round trip in 100 plus degree temperature.  I made a restroom stop as soon as I arrived at the office of SAEM, and with a sense of great relief, I washed my hands and stopped dead in my tracks as I looked in the mirror. 

   My dad was an interior decorator and painter and gentleman rancher.  He always wore a painter’s hat outdoors during the week; he went to a rodeo and county fair in a painter’s hat.  Like his father before him, he went into his 90s with black hair and white side wall sideburns, all bushy and going in several directions.   As I looked in the mirror, I was stunned. There looking back at me was my father; cap pulled down, bushy white sideburns going in every direction, and curls of black hair coming down from the back of the cap.  I was stunned. I had never thought of myself looking like my father.  I had been too big to wear his clothes since the 7th grade.  Now my father was looking back at me from the reflecting pool. 

   My dad was always my hero in churchmen.  He was an elder’s elder for nearly 55 years before the Lord. My wife, that is very stingy with compliments and praise, told me that he was her ideal of an elder in the Lord’s church.  Dad was patient with mother, and loving and attentive to all his children.  He was a hard worker; kind to people and to animals as well.  I often scold myself when I do not live up to what I think would be his standard of shepherding the flock in the church of Jesus Christ.  I have always understood well what the Bible meant by Our Heavenly Father; dad was God’s poster boy for a father.  Just the thought, that in some way, I resembled him brought me up short.  Then I thought about Dr. Hendrix’s remarks about judging your parenting success by examination of the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  I then thought about what kind of conversation that dad and I could have if we sat down under a piñon tree and kind of looked over the progeny. 

   I know that a snap-shot in time freeze look at anyone is dangerous.  I am reminded of one of the kid’s favorite Bible School songs, “I am not what I am going to be, for God is still working on me.”  Thank God that He is not finished with any of us yet.  We are all more potential than we are accomplishment.  Yet it is good once in a while, in time, to just stop and take count. 

   Dad, you would be proud of your kids; Nancy is doing well, and her kids are a blessing.  Ann and family are following in your love of ranching, Bonnie is doing well, and Eddie has got a big inherited family and really is enjoying life as I do.  You have kept close track on me, so you know what I am up to.

   Just look at your grandkids. There is Robin Kendall that designed and arranged the head stone for you and mama’s grave in South Carolina.  Steven Clyde and Nancy Kay that are doing so well; her husband has left his geology tools, and in up to his neck in farming and ranching in Oklahoma.  Dale is such a blessing, and his business in New Orleans is doing well. Lori and family in Guatemala is exciting the brotherhood, and on so many lips in prayer. Linda is involved in her school work and an example to us all in physical health. Dawn and family is carrying on for Danny, and Donny is still so vivid in our memory, and we will wait until heaven to get to really know David and Jonathan. Dean and family are so busy for the Lord, and he is looking forward to being big uncle to Jessica this summer even if he is having to make two trips to Chicago in the deal. Jeni and Paul are about to start a new adventure that we are praying very hard about, and Jeannie is entering a whole new chapter of her life. 

   Dad, times are hard; the kids that have grown up in Melba and my home, the ones born, and the ones that we have kind of adopted along the way, have faced some hard times over the years, and I have longed for the times that you and I shared about what to do with crisis situations.  There have been many wonderful times, also problems with the law, physical attacks, times of slipping into drinking and smoking and wonderful times of getting back on the straight and narrow.  There have been marital problems, and trouble at school.  There have been bad decisions and dangerous situations, and I have had to face them all as family, a fish bowl family, that everyone was watching.  I tell you, I don’t think I could have made it, if you had not modeled what a loving father was in my life.  Every time we faced authorities and the law, I remember being stupid and shooting out the dozen plus windows with my sling shot. I was way too good a shot. The law was called, neighbors were sure that San Quentin was the right answer for me.  You looked stern, promised to punish me, went to court with me and explained that it was not just the cost of the window, but taking a half day off work and driving half way across L.A. was costly.  You then put your arm around me and said that you loved me, that I was worth it, and you were sure that I would not do that again. I would have taken a bullet rather than to disappoint you after that day. 

   Dad, it was not those years of college you were so proud of that taught me how to be a man, how to be patient with folks; it was watching you dealing with me and my siblings.  That is where I learned what little patience that I have.  I put back on that hat, then went back and looked in the mirror again; yes, with that silly hat on, and I realized that if I am beginning to look like you, I need to really begin to act like you.   The reflecting pool doesn’t lie; it is not into flattering either; I pray that more than the white sidewalls under a hat will look like you.  My prayer is that I will be a reflection of your love. (finis)