Good and Gracious Green

What a difference a year makes.

Last year at this time we were well into a severe drought here in Northern Illinois. I remember one day when the humidity registered somewhere in the 20 or 25 percent range. It felt like a desert

So last year in early June the first harvest of alfalfa was already in and it looked okay, but the grass in the pastures had stopped growing and the next cuttings of hay got poorer and poorer till we had only two wagons in the last cutting. Chauncey, the friend who does our cutting, said more than once that the sales of that cutting didn’t even pay for itself.

But this year we have had more than ample rain. Consequently the signs of life are plentiful.

Oh, the barn swallows and meadow larks were there last year, but this year they fly and trill against a backdrop of grass and trees that seem so much more alive. The spruce trees have leapt up in their growth. The sheep can’t keep up the grass and in most places the seed heads are up to my waist in height—with a great deal of the growth taking place in just the last very wet week. Our friend, Adrian, was excited about the dogs working out in the tall grass since every outrun could be a “blind outrun” when the dogs can’t see the sheep you send them for and so they have to develop the talent of following your signals to get to the sheep. But there is a downside to this as the seed heads of the grass are at eye-height for the dogs which presents the risk of scratching to their corneas.

We thank God for the great times we had with a bus-load of second graders from the Sycamore schools here on May 23 and the 50 or so people who joined us for “Meet and Greet the Lambs” on Saturday, May 25. There was so much excitement and so much genuine enjoyment of the life springing up all over. Oh yes, Connie and I love to share God’s growth here on the farm!

In 2011 to 2012 we had our last rain of over an inch in early November and didn’t have another until at least a year later. But we have had many big rains—sometimes several in a single week—and at least one of over four inches.

I love the green and the growth that comes with the rain. I noticed every good rain this year, never wanting to repeat that sinking feeling when time after time the radar followed  fronts moving our way but showed them dissipating before they reached us.

There are inconveniences, and now we pray for a few dry days in a row so that the beautiful alfalfa and the tall grass can be harvested and help us pay some bills.

Every time I take the dogs out for a run in this blessed time of year, I can hear in my head Jean Redpath’s version of a beautiful song by David Mallet called “The Summer of My Dreams.” Here is just one of its verses:

In the shade of this old tree,

in the summer of my dreams,

by the tall grass, by the wild rose,

where the trees dance as the beans grow,

As the days go oh so slowly,

as the sun shines oh so holy,

on the good and gracious green,

in the summer of my dreams.


We do thank you Lord, for “the good and gracious green.”


About John

John is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has served congregations for over 40 years, including in rural, suburban, campus ministry and urban settings. His love of Border Collie sheepdogs has been fortified by his many friendships with shepherds all around the world. Nothing he has ever or will ever accomplish is as significant as the patience God, his wife and his friends have shown in putting up with his deficiencies.
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