Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

It doesn’t take much. Sometimes it’s just a passing thought. Other times it might be a part of a song. And then, as was the case recently, sometimes it’s just one word. And before you can say, ‘Route 4, Seneca, South Carolina,’ I’m mentally kicking rocks down that sometimes dusty, sometimes muddy dirt road toward the old farmhouse. And I can thank my good friend, Gerald Ravan, for this latest trip.

Before you think that I’ve slid off into the ditch and can’t get out, let me see if I can ‘splainify’ what I’m talkin’ about. It all started the other day before Sunday School when Gerald said, “Hey, Freeman, I’ve got a good word for you.” Ok, Gerald, what is it? “Anniversary.” He must have noticed the blank look on my face, ‘cause he said, “Just think about it – anniversary.” So, folks, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Tickets, please. Thanks for coming along with me on this little day trip.

Some anniversaries are worth rememberin’ because of the joy they bring when they jump up into the frontal lobe from down in the brain’s basement of mildewed storage boxes. Other anniversaries you’d rather not put on recall because of the pain you feel just thinkin’ about them again. But you can’t forget them. Let me go ahead and deal with that second category first, and then we’ll get on with the good stuff. OK?

I don’t remember the date, but I have a little short film clip (no videos back then!) in my mental library about the time I tried to duplicate the accomplishments of the flyin’ Wright Brothers. Except I wasn’t at Kitty Hawk, in our neighboring state of North Carolina. George, Oliver, and me (the youngest and most gullible of the terrible three!) were in the barn loft one sunny Saturday back home on the farm at Route 4. It had to be Saturday because that’s the day that Daddy took Mother to the A & P. And therein lies the problem. No adult supervision.

Anyway, with all their persuasive powers, they convinced me that if I let them tie enough of the biggest green oak leaves off the cow tree to both my arms, I could soar right out the barn loft doors and gently glide all over the barnyard! Their reasoning sounded pretty good. Since I didn’t weigh a hundred pounds soaking wet, they said, it would be a piece of cake. Just tie enough leaves on my arms, catch a good updraft, take a big jump, and away we go!

Remember, I said their reasoning sounded pretty good? Well, they didn’t count on this one thing – me turnin’ chicken at the last minute! That didn’t matter one iota to them. I wouldn’t jump, so they just shoved me. And, folks, I’m here to tell you, there was not even a hint of a breeze on the farm that Saturday morning, much less an updraft, as they called it.

You can just about guess what came next. There I am. Flat of my back, in the rock-hard barnyard, with the breath knocked out of me, starin’ up at the most beautiful blue sky I had ever seen. And there’s George and Ollie, standin’ in the open door of the barn loft, laughin’ their heads off! And then the sound of Daddy’s ol’ pulpwood truck pulling into the barnyard turned their laughter to horror.

Mother came to check on me to see if I was dead, while Daddy went after the two perpetrators of this barnyard crime. I think if he could have reached that high, he would have jerked them right out of the loft door. But he waited on the ground for them to climb down. Suffice it to say, the woodshed was open for business most of the rest of the day, and the lessons were many.

My two older brothers learned how costly it was for using almost half a new bale of Daddy’s hay-baling twine. And I learned my lesson well about believin’ everything they said. In fact, it was a long, long time before I would ever believe anything they said again. Barn lofts and airplanes won’t let me forget the anniversary of that Saturday morning!

But, let’s move on to rememberin’ good anniversaries. It was exactly fifty years ago to this very day that my future mill-hill bride and I were graduated from dear ol’ Seneca High School. I’m having a bit of a problem decidin’ if this should go in Category One or Category Two. On the one hand, it means I’m officially older than dirt.

But, on the other hand, there are two great reasons to remember this anniversary. Number one, my mill-hill bride. And number two, our senior English teacher, Miss Barron, who taught a shy farm boy that words are the keys to the world. So, although it’s been 50 years, let’s leave high school graduation firmly planted in Category Number One.

Back to Reason Number One above for pleasant memories of graduation. It was only three short years later that I took that mill-hill girl as my bride (I finally quit runnin’) and we moved on up, as they say, to the east side. To a thirty-five-dollar-a-month rental honeymoon mansion. Talk about livin’. This place had running hot and cold water, and a big ol’ oil space heater with a 55-gallon drum outside the window. No more cuttin’ and haulin’ firewood. Can somebody say Amen!

Now that I’ve cracked this walnut, here’s the meat of this message. This is Memorial Day Weekend, a time to celebrate and remember, an anniversary date to pay tribute to the valiant men and women who have served and are serving today to preserve and protect our way of life. And it’s especially important today to pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate price. All gave some and some gave all.

Just to see the rows and rows and rows of simple white crosses in our National Cemetery should produce a flood awe and respect in every American heart. There is no greater tribute than to honor their sacrifice. And may we never forget it.

And while we’re celebratin’ this Memorial Day, let’s also remember the sacrifice of the One who went to war all by Himself, conquered death, hell, and the grave, and reigns victorious today. I can hear Dennis Smith singing that solo right now, “He paid a debt He didn’t owe, because I had a debt I couldn’t pay.”

Jesus Christ proved that satan and his evil forces can be and will be defeated. And He has given all Christians everywhere the privilege of being foot soldiers in His army. It doesn’t take much research to look around us today at our world to come to the conclusion that God’s Army needs some more volunteers. If we sign up in His army, He’s promised great healing for our country (2 Chronicles 7: 14).

That great old gospel song written by Sabine Baring-Gould and set to music by Arthur S. Sullivan comes to mind right now. Sing out loud if you want to. Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before! Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle, see His banner go!

This is just me, but maybe it’s time for some us to come off of reserve duty and enlist full time in His army. Wouldn’t that make this Memorial Day Weekend an anniversary to remember forever!