“Obedience”, by Sietze Buning (a pseudonym used by Stanley Wiersma, late professor of English at Calvin College):

Were my parents right or wrong
not to mow the ripe oats that Sunday morning
with the rainstorm threatening?

I reminded them that the Sabbath was made for man
and of the ox fallen into the pit.
Without an oats crop, I argued,
the cattle would need to survive on town-bought oats
and then it wouldn’t pay to keep them.
Isn’t selling cattle at a loss like an ox in a pit?

My parents did not argue.
We went to church.
We sang the usual psalms louder than usual–
we, and the other whose harvests were at stake:

“Jerusalem, where blessing waits,
Our feet are standing in thy gates.”

“God, be merciful to me:
On thy grace I rest my plea.”

Dominie’s [Pastor’s] spur-of-the-moment concession:
“He rides on the clouds, the wings of the storm;
The lightning and wind his missions perform.”

Dominie made no concessions on sermon length:
“Five Good Reasons for Infant Baptism,”
though we heard little of it,
for more floods came and more winds blew and beat
upon that House than we had figured on, even,
more lightning and thunder
and hail the size of pullet eggs.
Falling branches snapped the electric wires.
We sang the closing psalm without the organ and in the dark:

“Ye seed from Abraham descended,
God’s covenant love is never ended.”

Afterward we rode by our oats field,

“We still will mow it,” Dad said.
“Ten bushels to the acre, maybe, what would have been fifty
if I had mowed right after milking
and if the whole family had shocked.
We could have had it weatherproof before the storm.”

Later at dinner Dad said,
“God was testing us. I’m glad we went.”
“Those psalms never gave me such a lft as this morning.”
Mother said, “I wouldn’t have missed it.”
And even I thought but did not say,
How guilty we would feel now if we had saved the harvest.

The one time Dad asked me why I live in a Black neighborhood,
I reminded him of that Sunday morning.
Immediately he understood.

(found in this book, and online here).


About Danny Slavich

I am a Christian husband, father, pastor, and poet. I lead Pembroke Road Baptist Church a multi-cultural, multi-generational church in urban South Florida.
This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Obedience

  1. peavyhouse says:

    Wow! That’s the only response I have. I’ll be in Miami the 6th and 7th. I would love to hang out if you have a second. Praying for you both. Wow. The last stanza is just incredible.

  2. Danny Slavich says:

    For sure Matt. Call me or email me and let’s set something up. Where are you guys staying?

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