• edwsheehy

Proverbs Three Five -- The Story

Once in a great while, if you’re lucky, a story finds you that is so perfect, so complete that all you have to do is find a tune and make it rhyme.

About three years ago, my friend Donna told me a story about her parents, Luther and Janice Larson. Luther was a farm kid from Brockton, Montana. It’s up in the far northeast corner of that massive state, where a tree is a rarity in the miles and miles of endless wheat fields. There’s a stark but awesome beauty to the land, but who could blame a young man who wanted more? So Luther set off for a seminary in Minnesota (Lutheran, of course) to become a pastor. His Dad approved, but with the one stipulation that while in school he would return each fall to help bring in the wheat crop.

Luther knew he’d made the right choice; he had a calling and was determined to heed it. He soon met a young woman, they fell in love and married. They decided to choose a Biblical passage as “theirs,” like some couples have “their” song. They picked Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

That first summer, back at the farm, Luther toiled as promised but missed his young bride. One day he picked a bunch of bluebells and mailed them back to Janice in Minnesota. This little gesture was long forgotten once they embarked on their life’s journey as Pastor and Pastor’s wife.

They had a fruitful life, did Luther and Janice: they raised their kids, grew older and prospered. When Janice died, her daughters Donna (my aforementioned friend) and Deb came to help Luther sot through her things. They found an old Bible, with something stuck inside…it was the bluebells, dried and pressed, on the page where the passage from Proverbs 3:5 was underlined.

Proverbs 3:5

My Daddy was a farmer and in my boyhood so was I

In a corner of Montana where the wheat fields meet the sky

When I finished high school it was time to find my name

Life’s just not a straight line through the amber waves of grain

I longed to be a preacher and that takes education

So I said goodbye Montana and left Daddy in the field

He only asked for one thing, to come back every summer

To help him bring the crop in, and so we made the deal

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

Don’t rely on your own understanding

Well I loved Minnesota and studying the Gospel

Singing every Sunday in an a capella choir

One day I met an alto, and when we looked at each other

She became my everything, and I her heart’s desire

We married in the springtime and began a different life

I was meant to be that preacher, and she a preacher’s wife

We found a verse in Proverbs and decided we would keep it

To help us get through anything in happiness or strife

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

Don’t rely on your own understanding

Each and every summer I would go back to Montana

I can’t say I was happy there, with Janice left behind

I’d sit up on that tractor, with my heart in Minnesota

I steered her straight with muscle while I traveled in my mind

One day I saw some bluebells on a fence line on the south end

I picked a few and mailed them off to Janice the next day

Just a little token so she’d know that I was lonesome

And that come September I’d be back to stay

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

Don’t rely your own understanding

The years came tumbling after as we grew our little family

The children came, the children went, we gave them all our best

After fifty seven years together Janice got the fever

It broke my soul in pieces when we laid her to rest

I could not bear to go through all those dresser drawers and cupboards

My daughter came to organize what Janice left behind

She opened that old Bible to a page somewhere in Proverbs

To a spray of dried up bluebells and a passage underlined.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

Don’t rely on your own understanding

There’s one last twist to this story. Two years after I wrote this song, we were staying at the family farm on Washington Island. In the bedroom, there’s a rocking chair that’s been there as long as we can remember. Over the back, an embroidered throw is neatly folded. No one is sure who made it or when, but it’s been a fixture for a long time. But when I glanced at it last year, I was stunned.

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