by Brian Johnston
Harvest time was winding down,
I was taking lunch in town,
After spending six long hours plowing stubble.
Washing up I met a man,
Guessed he was a harvest hand,
His combine crew, he said, was fixin' to move out.
He was wearing dungarees,
We exchanged some pleasantries,
His grease stained clothes revealed he'd no fear of trouble
As I left to join the crowd,
Well, the cafe was quite loud,
Chose a corner seat where I would not need to shout.
From my new seat had a view
Of the whole room's retinue,
Men and women who make a livin' from the dirt.
A table seating seven,
Which could have held eleven,
Was where my new acquaintance waited for his lunch.
A young woman with three girls,
Blonde hair all done up in curls,
Joked with and teased an older boy with a clean shirt.
The youngest seemed the cutest,
Still with girls there's no sure test,
It was clear that these seven were a charming bunch.
Well quite soon our meals arrived,
As I ate I still contrived,
To simply take in all the action I could get,
Even though I felt quite blest,
How I longed to be their guest,
What a gift to be their dad, uncle, or brother.
Then, ‘Oh God, ' there came a shock,
And it hit me like a rock,
As this loving mother smoked her first cigarette.
It was like my best friend died
And deep in my heart I cried
As quietly she lit up and smoked another.
Excuse me if I'm unkind,
But all this brought back to mind,
A smoking relative whose life was soon to end.
Her choice couldn't be undone,
For her daughter and a son,
Her addiction's death came too late with no one spared.
God has a lien on my heart,
He promised we'd never part,
Required just that I serve Him by being a friend
To others in my pathway,
(Whether they're pure bred or stray)
My most personal assets always to be shared.
I felt God's call to action,
But doubting words had traction
I had a C-note that I concealed in my hand,
Walked to the group of seven,
Prayed all the time to heaven,
And as a joke said, ‘Are you all on safari? '
Told them I was a farmer,
And attempting to charm her,
Praised her family in some ways I'd fore planned,
She beamed at the attention ,
Was surprised when I mentioned,
That I also had designed games for Atari.
I said, ‘You might think this strange,
But do you have plans to change
Your smoking habits? You smoked two after eating! '
She smiled, ‘Of course I'd like to.
But somehow I never do.'
I opened my hand, ‘It's yours if you'll quit today! '
I knew she could feel the Love,
With one source, from God above,
It guided her heart to miraculous meeting.
She looked at my outstretched hand,
Crying, ‘I don't understand,
This can't be happening to me, there's just no way! '
She still couldn't quite believe,
And with heart out on her sleeve,
She looked up at me and said, ‘You're kidding, aren't you? '
I answered, ‘Give me your word,
That these changes have occurred,
That you will never smoke again, and all is good! '
She turned to her three daughters,
As if to check the waters,
Asked them, ‘Should Mommy bid her cigarettes adieu? '
Well the girls all screamed out, ‘Yes! '
And I really must confess,
The mother's smile convinced me she too understood.
She didn't try to hedge her bets,
Handed me her cigarettes,
She took some paper and a pen out of her purse.
I guess I looked kind of blank…
‘Write down who I have to thank, '
She said, ‘I want to write and tell you how I'm doing.'
As I handed back my name,
She said, ‘Oh look! They're the same! '
And I found myself rejoicing, ‘I have done worse.'
Fifteen years though now have past,
Oh, My God, they went so fast,
There's been no word, but no doubts am I pursuing.
On returning to the field,
My work's promise was to yield
A speedy death to any green weed still growing.
I have farmed now many years
Know just how to shift the gears
Of a tractor which out-pulls five hundred horses.
Things were going pretty good,
When, by landing on the hood
A sparrow made a mockery of all knowing.
To start off the hood is hot,
A place to rest, it is not,
Yet he seemed quite content as I ran my courses.
Engine's roar did not phase him,
Its harsh sound sure was no hymn,
I was plowing fast over ground that was quite rough.
He'd bounce forward and then aft,
Even slide in the cross draft,
But it seemed like the little sparrow did not care.
I thought maybe he is sick,
Perhaps his brain isn't quick,
Then I thought, ‘He likes me, ' and I stopped feeling gruff.
Some days I serve sea gull schools
Circling my tractor's dust pools,
A moving smorgasbord of insects that rise there.
My friend wasn't there for food
Which helped establish a mood
Of brotherhood like I'd felt in the restaurant.
It felt closer to caring,
Something more than just sharing,
Though glass stood inbetween, his eyes stayed locked on mine.
If our dance was like a dream,
No enticement did I scheme,
The sweet gift of his presence wasn't meant to taunt.
When at last he shook his head,
And into the sky he fled,
I understood, by God, his visit was divine.
(In loving Memory of Jetta Larsen who lost her life to smoking!)