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  • Writer's pictureAlice J Stewart

Parable of the Farmstead

Main Idea: New life amid change


Once upon a time, there was a family farm. It was about as successful as other family farms. There were crops and livestock, and four generations living in the big rambling house at a time. There were hired hands and huge holiday feasts, and Granny’s pie won the blue ribbon every year at the community gathering.

Times changed over the years. Electricity and indoor plumbing was installed amid equal parts hand-wringing and relief. Tractors and other equipment were bought and eventually paid for. The family made enough to send the kids off to college. One became a veterinarian, another a chemist, and a third a nurse.

Then times changed again. Industrial farms bought out some neighbors, and housing development bought out others. The kids all married and moved away. After a few years, the grandchildren became too busy with their own lives to visit regularly. Eventually, only Granny and PawPaw were left, and their only visitors were during holidays.

One year, over Thanksgiving turkey, one of the grandchildren added internet to the farmhouse and showed Granny and PawPaw how to use social media and Google. That Christmas, they both received cell phones and instructions on how to use them. Over Easter, everyone decided to make a website about the farm, so Granny and PawPaw could give historical tours to visitors.

The next year a recession hit the country. Half the family lost their jobs, and the other half were struggling to pay their bills. Visitors to the farm dried up. There was no extra money to keep the farm from falling down around Granny and PawPaw’s ears, and they were getting older and needing more regular visits to the doctors an hour away. The farm would have to be sold, the farmhouse too, and Granny and PawPaw would need to live with one of the kids… somehow.

The family considered creative ideas, including turning the old place into an organic farm with homemade soaps and banjo lessons. They even thought about a clothing-optional campsite near the old swimming hole. But none of it could be realized with just Granny and PawPaw, and everyone else in the family was working as much as they could at multiple jobs to pay their mortgages.

So they sold the farm. The nurse in the family took Granny and PawPaw to her home. Her eldest had gone off to college a couple of years previously and was living on his own.

“There’s a lovely community garden just down the block,” was the enticement to move. Granny and PawPaw were less than impressed by a community garden in an urban area after wide-open spaces every hour of their lives.

The first Thanksgiving was grim. The first Christmas was full of complaining and bitterness and tears. But the first Easter found Granny and PawPaw taking in the sun at the community garden.

There’s something about God’s growing things springing forth from the chilly earth. At the community garden, Granny and PawPaw drank in the familiar sights and smells. Still, there was an additional sound they had not heard for many years: the sound of children chattering and giggling and asking millions of questions within and about the community garden.

At Easter dinner, Granny and PawPaw announced they were the new tutors at the community garden. The rest of the family were thrilled that they’d found some enjoyment in their new surroundings. But they were less than thrilled by mid-summer when the elderly couple stayed out late and brought home new friends nearly every day and in the Autumn held canning lessons for 50 people at a time.

By the second Thanksgiving, the nurse and her siblings had planned on having a little chat with Granny and PawPaw about their social activities. It was taking too much space and creating too much chaos in the nurse’s home.

But Granny and PawPaw surprised their children and grandchildren by inviting them out to have Thanksgiving dinner at the local church. The community garden had rented the entire place and was having a huge Thanksgiving dinner there with the produce from their gardens.

So the family went. And they were amazed. After dinner and during dessert, Granny and PawPaw were invited up to the front and given microphones. They were the community garden’s volunteers of the year.

PawPaw spoke first. “You may have heard the phrase, ‘bloom where you’re planted.’ Well, that’s what we’ve done all our lives. It wasn’t always easy, but it’s what we signed up for. But let me tell you, it ain’t easy to be transplanted.”

Granny nodded and continued the thought. “It’s a shock to a plant when it’s transplanted. Some never recover. Some can’t adjust to the new soil conditions. Some never thrive. But those that do can bring new life to themselves and the entire crop. It’s worth it.” A tear came to her eye. “It’s worth it in the end.”

PawPaw held her hand and patted it. “We want to thank you all for inviting a couple of old coots into your family. And we want to thank you for inviting our family into yours.”

There was sugar-fueled applause, not least of which came from Granny and PawPaw’s kids and grandkids.

But then the director of the community garden came up with a grin on her face and announced that, if Granny and PawPaw accepted it, the community garden would like to hire them as their new garden docents because a five-year grant had come through complete with a stipend. A stipend that would allow them to afford an apartment of their own nearby.

The crowd went wild. The hosts - church people - praised God and led a rousing hymn. Everyone joined in.

And everyone lived happily ever after.

The end.



  • What is the morale of the story?

  • How is the farmstead like your church?

  • Where is hope?


Photo by Sam Carter on Unsplash

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