We Stand Grounded

My father will not
climb into the trees

He is eighty-four
and tells me
that he was never

fond of heights,
that he hated
putting up the pipes

to fill the silo,
that he did not enjoy
climbing to the top

of the barn
to fix the pulley
on the hay-sling.

I have no desire
to be in the air,
he says.

And I always thought
he loved walking
the rim of the silo,

waving his hat
in circles overhead,
shouting down to
where we stood
grounded and gazing
up at him.

~Joyce Sutphen “Grounded” from First Words

As much as I loved it, riding on my father’s shoulders when I was small was more than high enough for me: he was a tall man and I felt I could reach the sky when I was up there. He would dip me down and swoop around and I felt I was flying with my tummy tickling the whole time. It was sheer delight but only because my dad was attached to the ground and I was held tightly by him. I was safe because he was.

When I was five, it took me months to be brave enough to climb the steps to go down the slide on my kindergarten playground – I lied to my parents that I had done it way before I actually did and they were so proud for me. This meant when I actually screwed up the courage and did it months later, there was no one I could brag to – I had ruined my own achievement with my previous deceptive bravado.

Climbing ladders into the hay loft to fetch hay bales still requires bravery that I sorely lack. Going up the steps doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the fact I must eventually come down…somehow… and it is the descent that seems far more terrifying.

When our barn needed a major repair of new roof and walls, the workers used ladders but also a hydraulic lift – something the turn of the century carpenters didn’t have access to. When I look at the hay sling/hook pulley hanging high from the peak of the barn, I realize someone over 100 years ago had to climb up to put it up there, so there it remains even though its working days are long past.

As much as possible, I now stay grounded, firmly attached to the soil, convinced it is where I belong. I’ll look and act as if I’m brave when I dare to climb up high, but only because I know Whose shoulders bear me up when I’m going beyond my comfort zone.

I’m safe because He is and always will be.

If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, you will enjoy this new book from Barnstorming, available to order here:

4 thoughts on “We Stand Grounded

  1. Ditto.
    Watching the small crew of men replace the barn roof and later the house roof at the farm gave me great appreciation for their skill to move about safely doing their job at that height with no support to keep them safe.
    I no longer even step on a three step stepladder.
    I now live near the Lancaster Airport and watch many small planes come and go.
    I’m not a fan of flying.
    In my lifetime, I took one trip by air with several take offs and landings.
    The other weekend the Rotary had their Wheels and Wings Fundraiser across the street.
    Helicopters were up and down all day.
    I should have gone for a helicopter ride, but I am afraid more or less of flying.
    When I’m, outside for my morning walk, I sometimes hear a very loud jet taking off.
    Same thing in the PM. I checked their list of flights.
    I have said to myself, some day I may have to get on that plane for that flight.
    When my father was in his last room at STR, he had a view toward the airport.
    Often in his last months, when on the phone with him and I heard a plane I would say…
    “I can hear a plane, can you see it?”
    That short conversation still runs through my mind sometimes,
    when I am outside and a plane flies overhead.

    Your reminder is a good one…

    I’ll look and act as if I’m brave when I dare to climb up high,
    but only because I know Whose shoulders bear me up
    when I’m going beyond my comfort zone.
    I’m safe because He is and always will be.

    I think…not look and act, but I need to live that way, when out of my comfort zone.
    Linda Ziegler

    Liked by 1 person

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