THE EXPIRATION DATE OF PRAYERS

Pierre Fontenot Thursday, April 16, 2015 0
THE EXPIRATION DATE OF PRAYERS

I was in my uncomfortable teens and my grandfather was in his uncomfortable seventies. I needed somebody to confirm that I wasn’t as small as I felt and I guess he needed me too, a grandkid to admire him, and make him feel not as old as he felt.

We bonded over a mutual interest in cattle.  He was down to a small herd and I was one Angus heifer into building my daydream of my own herd.

I had been reading up on cattle. It’s the first time I’d been around the word “cull.” You had to cull your herd to improve your herd. Cow putting out scrawny calves, cull her…cow missed a year without calving, cull her…don’t like the calf crop, cull the bull…

My grandfather was one of those hidden illiterates of his generation, an American raised up French in an English world. Maybe I wanted to help him, probably I wanted him to value me, so I’d drop hints about modern herd practices I’d read about in magazines.

He had an old fashioned herd, not like you see these days, where all the cattle are one color. His were more like the roping steers you see at rodeos.  Horns and all the great colors of cattle muttness. There were no two alike, and none were worthy of the herd I wanted to have.

I’d try to show off on what I’d read, that cow with the muley face and the twisted horn hadn’t had a calf in two years, maybe it was time to take her to the sale barn, but my grandfather would say things like this, “I liked her grandmother.”

I was looking at the cows of now; my grandfather was looking at generations of the cows that came before.

It took a while, but I finally got it, that my grandfather was being loyal, to old cows who’d gone before, and without a written ledger to reference, he knew the chain of mother to daughter to granddaughter, the family tree of a herd…

It was in the field just west of the old home place, my grandfather shaking little piles of Horse ‘n Mule out as a little treat to an old cow that he couldn’t bear to give up on, and I thought, ‘Maybe God is like this.’

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I know my father prayed for me, probably daily. Some were specific, but most were general, a father wanting health and happiness for his kid, a good life, and most importantly, salvation. That my father is gone means there are no new prayers, but what about the old ones?

When I was a 60’s Sunday School kid reading about the Israelites fleeing Egypt for the Promised Land I found myself angry. What a bunch of disloyal, shallow, weak-willed people they revealed themselves to be, but God stayed with them, true to His promise to Abraham, and the contract of the prayers between them.

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What if God is not that much different than my grandfather? Cutting slack, remembering how good our great grandparents were, not wanting to give up on the bloodline… God knows the chain of generations, and the prayers of His departed.

I imagine the echo of my father’s prayers, going back to the first one, father to Father, Dad praying for all the parenthood that was out of his control, and now that he’s gone from life, I believe the prayers hold their place, and honor, entrusted to He who said, Ask and it shall be given.

It flows, it flows, grace begetting grace, God looking at us though the filter of love and loyalty.

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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is brought to you by Eighty-one, where we’re very aware that there is one prayer that we’re reminded of around Easter season, where Someone said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do,” a prayer for us all, a prayer without expiration.

 

Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories are posted on Eighty-one’s Facebook page.  Uncle P can be reached at  81creativity@gmail.com.