News and Tribune

January 21, 2014

CUMMINS: People who do the right thing

By TERRY CUMMINS
Local columnist

— In a previous article, I addressed doing good or bad, right or wrong, and, heaven forbid, evil, which is lower than any pit, except where you burn eternally. Imagine that. Much of our behavior is the struggle to do the right thing in all situations, which usually results in “good.” But you can do evil if you want to, because you do it on purpose. Living “with” your self is good. If living with others is bad for you, I don’t know what to tell you.

It’s tough doing right or even knowing what it is in every situation. Gorging at a table is not a good thing, but it is for me. Doing the right thing every day gets wearisome. Who wants to thrive on fruits and vegetables, or love all your neighbors? Life would be a snap if it weren’t for the food and the love thing. Food is too tempting, like it was in Eden. Loving is a commandment, but it shouldn’t be. It should come natural, but self gets in the way. It all goes back to what your purpose for living is.

In politics, the purpose is to raise money until you’re too feeble to know what you’re doing. Then announce, “I want to spend more time with my family.” Politics is not necessarily evil; we don’t know what it actually is. Thank God, there are many other common people out there known as “good souls,” who know what their purpose for living is.

 My grandfather, who raised me, was one. His good works stemmed from deep within his soul. I didn’t understand it at the time, but as the many years went by, I came to realize what his purpose was. It was only to do right and good things.

We farmed our old hill farm the way it had been done since man began scratching out a meager livelihood from the good earth. It was the hard way, sewing seeds by hand and keeping the faith that harvest would come. We depended on God’s nature to help us, and He did, but there were some close calls a few times.

I wrote a book about my grandfather and called it, “Feed My Sheep.” The title is from the Bible where Peter asks Jesus three times, how can we love thee more? And Jesus answered each time, “Feed my sheep.” The book was not intended to be a  religious book, but maybe it is. My grandfather never said much about his religion. Though, he would take his Bible out under the old pear tree each Sunday morning before church and read from it. He’d then look out over the hills, as if he wanted to make sure what his purpose was.

He loved his land, all his animals and especially his sheep. He spent so much time with them, and would ride his saddle mare out every day to see if they needed him. They knew he would come, and they’d gathered around him when he called.  

I wrote the book for him, although he had been gone many long years. Later, I skimmed back through the book, and read this passage, “He took care of everything else, and then took care of himself.” We’d milk the cows, feed them, clean out the manure from their stalls, and then we’d go eat our breakfast. We’d bring loads of hay to the barn on the hottest days. We’d water our tired horses at the pond, feed them a few ears of corn and out to pasture. Then my grandfather would say, “Now, we can go get our suppers.”

My grandfather was not perfect. He’d get disgusted when a plow broke or a mule balked. He’d get disgusted with me when I’d rather be shooting a deflated basketball at a barrel hoop nailed to the barn. Running after sheep every day or hoeing corn was not the right thing for me to do at that time. Would it ever change?

I doubt if he ever thought what he did was in vain, because he always tried to make all life around him and the land a little better than it was. Although he’s gone, I see him on cold winter nights during lambing time, lighting a lantern and going to the barn. He could not sleep, wondering if his flock might need him. It’s a good feeling knowing that someone is keeping watch, always there to remind you to do the right thing.

— Contact Terry Cummins at TLCTLC@AOL.com