Friday, August 10, 2012

Beneath a Patchwork Sky

 Charles Shepherd's farm - Monticello, IN
photo by Rita Bourland
 Beneath a Patchwork Sky

Beneath a patchwork sky, an old farmer is laid to rest.  No more tilling the fields, planting the seeds, waiting for rain. He lies in a field outside of town where flowers abound. Flags blow in the wind, stone angels keep watch; birds soar through the air unaware.

All other fields are full of corn.  Row upon row, mile upon mile, the roads are lined with corn.  Standing at attention, saluting those who pass.  Walking between the rows, one hears the wind rustling the stalks, whispering a language unknown to human ears.  

These are the crops that feed the nation. 

Farmers rise before dawn to start their day; it’s just their way.  They tend to the chickens and cows; fix their machines, head to the fields.  Their office is the land, their business the crop.  They know weeds and seeds, sand and soil, drought and torrential rains.  

This year the drought tests patience; the yields are so meager. They wait, hoping God will provide, yet knowing all is lost.  Already they plan for next year’s crop, hoping to have money for the seeds they need to start anew. 

They pray their labors will be blessed.  Sometimes late at night they weep, wondering if prayers matter at all.

The old farmer’s grave will be cared for as days go on and he'll be remembered for all he did.  The seeds he sowed have grown into children of his own and into a farm that still lives on, tended by others who till the land with loving hands.   And so it goes, and so it goes.   

Droughts will come and go – at least one hopes it’s so.   For all we know the old farmer will use his heavenly seeds, casting them down to earthly ground, sending a sign of hope for next year’s crop.   

One wonders how a seed can grow at all, and yet it does – a miracle sown beneath a patchwork sky.

*I attended a funeral in Monticello, Indiana this week for my brother-in-law's father.  I was so moved by the close-knit families and the visual images of this farming community that I wanted to share a few thoughts through my blog.  The drought is simply devastating this year.  


  1. Such a beautiful tribute to all farmers -- the heroic men and women who keep us alive -- and especially to Charles Shepherd, a shining star among all people. Judy

  2. Thanks, Judy. It was an honor to hear people speak of his life and how he mentored so many others. I hadn't been around that much farm land in a really long time. It was inspiring and humbling.