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An Old Farmer’s Words of Wisdom

One of my earliest childhood memories is of sitting on the couch beside my grandfather (we called him Pappaw) in his house while he silently read his Bible. I watched his hands as he read, tracking his progress along the lines of text with his calloused and arthritis-gnarled index finger.

Pappaw Peterson was skilled and smart. Every successful farmer must be. Their livelihoods depend on it. But Pappaw had something deeper than skill and intelligence; he had wisdom. I suspect that much of that wisdom came from his reading of his Bible, the source of all true wisdom. I also remember his going about his farm chores while whistling the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” His wisdom came from his quiet confidence in the faithfulness of the Giver of Wisdom.

But Pappaw’s wisdom was not the erudite wisdom of philosophers, articulated in esoteric and academic terms that too often confuse rather than enlighten. His was a common-sense wisdom that was lived more than spoken, caught by others through observation of the wise one more than being formally taught by him.

Come to think of it, that was also the kind of wisdom that my other grandfather, Mother’s father (we called him Paw Summers), possessed. It’s a kind of wisdom that seems to be sorely lacking today, probably because so many have ignored or rejected the All-Wise Giver of Wisdom.

I thought of Pappaw and Paw and their sage lives the other day when I ran across some things that an old farmer once said. I could image that I heard my grandfather’s voices in many of those sayings. I thought I’d share a few of them with you in this week’s blog post. They offer food for thought, meaty and substantive.

Build your fences horse-high, pig-tight, and bull-strong. Life is simpler when you plow around the stump. It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge. You can’t unsay a cruel word. (The same is true for us writers. We should never put into print anything we don’t want to come back and bite us later.) When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer. If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around.

The list could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. Common sense plainly stated. The problem is that such common sense isn’t so common anymore, which makes Pappaw’s and Paw’s words of wisdom seem all the more wise.

And then I find myself wondering: Will my grandchildren remember my words (whether spoken or written) and my actions in the same way I remember my grandfathers? I sure hope so, but the question keeps me on my toes.

How about you? What words of wisdom do you recall from your ancestors? Share them in the comment section below.

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