County Lines by Bob
When I was growing up, I went to church with my grandparents every
Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. I learned to
read from the Christian Bible at an early age.
By the time I was five, I could recite what I called the Shepherd's
Prayer. You know the one I'm referring to. It begins "The Lord
is my shepherd, I shall not want."
I was too young then to understand the significance of what I was
I didn't discover until much later in life that praying is more
than words when it comes from the heart.
By the time I was ten, I could recite passages from every book
in the Old and the New Testament. Gold stars in Sunday school were
a common occurrence for me. I wasn't doing anything a trained parrot
couldn't do. But it made Grandpa happy.
My grandfather was a hard working simple man, a country gentleman
who treated everyone with kindness.
When Grandpa was growing up, he worked side by side with blacks
in the tobacco fields on his family's farm. "Some of the best
people I ever knew," Grandpa would say.
My grandfather cared about what was on the inside. The color of
the outside didn't matter. My grandfather could sleep through most
anything. He almost slept through a hurricane, until the wind blew
a piece of the roof off and water poured on his head.
When a brother, visiting from Virginia, asked if he had any hobbies,
Grandpa replied, "Sleepin'."
Grandpa prayed over every meal, breakfast, lunch, supper, a peanut
butter sandwich in the middle of the afternoon. No matter what,
Grandpa prayed over it.
When I was in a hurry to eat so I could get back outside and play,
Grandpa would pray and pray and pray. He was stretching it out because
he knew I was in a hurry.
Sometimes I'd raise my head and look at him. He'd smile at me.
Our secret joke, just between Grandpa and me.
Once, when I was in a hurry, Grandpa asked me to say the blessing.
I said, "Thanks for the food. Amen."
Grandpa laughed. I can still hear him laughing, when I slow down
Each time I return home, to the town where I was born and raised,
I place a white rose on Grandpa's grave. I like where he's buried,
in the shade where you can hear the wind dancing with the leaves.
After visiting Grandpa's grave, I walk down a narrow path and place
a white rose on my first wife's grave.
Explaining how I feel there is difficult. It's a mixture of tears
and smiles. Happy because she chose me to love. Sad because she
died so young.
She liked my smile. I liked the way she said "peachy keen".
Not much to base a relationship on. But it was a beginning.
When the sadness floods in too quickly, like it often does, I'll
walk back to Grandpa's grave, sit with my back against a tree, and
talk to him about what's going on in my life, about what's wrong,
about what's right.
I tell him about the things I should be doing, but I'm not. Loving
more. Forgiving more. Helping others more. Being grateful for what
I have instead of wanting more.
Some people probably think I'm crazy, talking to a dead grandfather
who can't hear me. But he hears me in ways words can't describe.
I'm not a religious person. I'm not on a trip to make others believe
like I do. I practice live and let live.
My Higher Power is mine exclusively. If you want a higher power,
you'll have to find your own.
Perhaps you'll discover the same thing I did. My Higher Power wasn't
lost, I was.
Although I'm not religious, I believe in the power of prayer that
I learned from my grandfather. I didn't understand what that was
until many years after his death.
I was almost shaking my teeth out while detoxing in an alcoholism
and drug addiction treatment center, when I silently cried out for
help to a power greater than myself.
The help arrived in the form of recovering alcoholics and addicts
who had been where I was and were willing to show me by words and
actions the spiritual pathway to recovery.
Whether we're alcoholics or drug addicts or both or neither, we
all have demons living inside our heads.
Sometimes they're quietly asleep. Sometimes they scream at us until
we're so confused we mistake our wants for our needs.
I'm sure there's a psychological theory or a pill that's designed
to reduce the anxiety that accompanies this confusion. But praying
silences the self-created demons that reside in my head.
To stop my fears from becoming my thoughts, I rely on a prayer
I learned as a child.
I call it the Shepherd's Prayer. You know the one I'm referring
to. It begins "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.Ó
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570