Me: Your crops look good this year!
Prodigal: Thank you!
Me: I have a story about the country you might like.
Prodigal: You can share then!
This is from Billy Rose
There was once a fellow who, with his dad, farmed a little piece of land. Several times a year they would load up the old ox-drawn cart with vegetables and go into the nearest city to sell their produce. Except for their name and the patch of ground, father and son had little in common. The old man believed in taking it easy. The boy was usually in a hurry….the go-getter type.
One morning bright and early, they hitched up the ox to the loaded cart and started on the long journey. The son figured that if they walked faster, kept going all day and night, they’d make the market by early the next morning. So he kept prodding the ox with a stick, urging the beast to get a move on.
“Take it easy, son,” said the old man. “You’ll last longer.”
“But if we get to market ahead of the others, we’ll have a better chance of getting good prices,” argued the son.
No reply. Dad just pulled his hat down over his eyes and fell asleep on the seat. Itchy and irritated, the young man kept goading the ox to walk faster. His stubborn pace refused to change.
Four hours and four miles down the road, they came to a little house. The father woke up, smiled, and said, “Here’s your uncle’s place. Let’s stop in and say hello.”
“But we’ve lost an hour already,” complained the hotshot. “Then a few more minutes won’t matter. My brother and I live so close, yet we see each other so seldom.”
The boy fidgeted and fumed while the two men laughed and talked away almost an hour. On the move again, the man took his turn leading the ox. As they approached a fork in the road, the father led the ox to the right.
“The left is the shorter way,” said the son.
“I know it,” replied the old man, “but this way is so much prettier.”
“Have you no respect for time?” the young man asked impatiently.
“Oh, I respect it very much! That’s why I like to use it to look at beauty and enjoy each moment to the fullest.”
The winding path led through graceful meadows, wildflowers, and along a rippling stream–all of which the young man missed as he churned within, preoccupied and boiling with anxiety. He didn’t even notice how lovely the sunset was that day.
Twilight found them in what looked like a huge, colorful garden. The old man breathed in the aroma, listened to the bubbling brook, and pulled the ox to a halt. “Let’s sleep here,” he sighed.
“This is the last trip I’m taking with you.” snapped his son. “You’re more interested in watching sunsets and smelling flowers than in making money!”
“Why, that is the nicest thing you’ve said in a long time.” smiled the dad. A couple of minutes later he was snoring–as his boy glared back at the stars. The night dragged slowly, the son was restless.
Before the sunrise the young man hurriedly shook his father awake. They hitched up and went on. About a mile down the road they happened upon another farmer–a total stranger–trying to pull his cart out of a ditch.
“Let’s give him a hand,” whispered the old man.
“And lose more time?” exploded the son.
“Relax, son….you might be in a ditch sometime yourself. We need to help others in need–don’t forget that.” The boy looked away in anger.
It was almost eight o’clock that morning by the time the other cart was back on the road. Suddenly, a great flash split the sky. What sounded like thunder followed. Beyond the hills, the sky grew dark.
“Looks like a big rain in the city,” said the old man.
“If we had hurried, we’d be almost sold out by now.” grumbled his son.
“Take it easy…You’ll last longer. And you’ll enjoy life so much more,” counseled the kind old gentleman.
It was late afternoon by the time they got to the hill overlooking the city. They stopped. They stared down at it for a long, long time.
Neither of them said a word. Finally the young man put his hand on his father’s shoulder and said, “I see what you mean, Dad.”
They turned their cart around and began to roll slowly away from what had once been the city of Hiroshima.
Jennifer Van Allen
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.