Burkhart

Burkhart

Every spring an array of blooming daffodils proclaim the place of a long-gone pioneer home of early settlers. A rugged frontier family had planted these immemorable bloomers to decorate a steep bank in front of their log home around 1800.

My father bought this farm in 1940. As a 7-year-old, I looked upon the huge square hued foundation stones that walled the hand-dug basement — the pioneers’ precious root cellar. The log structure was gone, rotted away many years before.

When excavating nearby in 1941 for the basement of our new house, my father directed the bulldozer to push in the remnant of the pioneer’s basement. When the bulldozer’s work was done there was not a trace of what once was — a house, a yard, a garden, and generations of human life. It suddenly was a flat field for farming. Where once was the cry of newborns, the laughter of children, the sigh and moaning of fatigued parents, the weeping at the death of an infant or an aged grandparent; where winter winds whistled around that house and cooking emitted across the countryside the scent of burning wood; where that open hearth radiated precious heat staving off winter’s chill, but always elevated the swelter of summer; where a heavy door barred out the ravages of the frontier; where those stalwart log walls gave peace and rest from daylong weary toils; where a cradle rocked; kerosene lamps burned and heads were bowed in prayer; where family life languished yet prevailed in love.

On that bulldozing day as a child, I looked beyond where that pioneer house used to be. I saw that steep bank that faced the road. Those golden daffodils were dancing in the spring breeze. The settlers were still there. The annual resurrection of these flowers gave those who planted them presence — validating their humble yet great life — making sacred that ground.

These first dwellers of the land made arduous contributions of incalculable worth in clearing the land and setting up the spring’s water in a hued-out stone basin; as well as establishing the first road to access the farm; identifying property and fence lines — all this work fell into oblivion within a generation — all taken for granted. Especially with the trees gone, all subsequent generations have not been able to calculate or appreciate the early settlers work transforming a forest into a farm.

Seemingly the unseen, unappreciated and unrecognized — though boldly and plainly displayed with a moment’s reflection — are the labor-intensive contributions of those FIRST farmers.

May your life labors and mine benefit those who follow us, even though we are never given credit or recognition. May our lives be motivated and directed to leave this earth better than we found it; that those who follow experience a catapulted success because we preceded them; that the serious commitment of our time and talent stands timeless, bringing lifelong and even eternal benefits to generations to come. We’re told that even giving a cold drink of water has eternal recognition and lasting value; that the light of our life never goes out.

“Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like stars…” [Daniel 12:3]

Though we leave not a trace nor a track, may our deeds shine upon those who follow for endless time.

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