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COUNTRY ECHOES

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By the time this issue of the Iron Men Album arrives at your home in February of 1974 I wonder what more will have developed on the national and world scene. The writing of this column, of course, was done among the Christmas preparations of 1973. We had a few dismally dark days during December. One hardly knew it was daylight. These distressed the soul to the uttermost, and out of these came the following peom.

DECEMBER IS MY WATERGATE

I find nothing profound amongst your dark skinned hours.
Nothing to cheer but fire's warmth and glow.
Nothing for adding to imagined towers
Nothing encouraging to make my house plants grow.

Sadly they grimace. Only cacti weather
All of your gloom. My carpet rags grow knots.
Candle-lit fingers fail to tie and tether
Badly worn cloth, nor alter inky blots.

Hie then away, December's deep despairing.
(This year no lights, no glowing Christmas tree.)
Take then your shortest day and go wayfaring
I've had enough of baleful '73.

Now what of 1974, I asked  myself among the anxiety. One can't be a concerned person and not care. What of all the argumentive and conflicting voices on every hand? And then a great thing happened to me as a person. My father used to say, 'It has to get about so bad before it gets any better.' To this I can say, 'Amen!'

In the latter days, the Bible tells us, 'Your old men will dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.' Joel 2:28 B. And after listening to all the accusations and defenses of the past year, I have to conclude that we are so busy blaming everybody but ourselves in the U.S.A. that our dreams and visions have hit rock bottom. In my personal experience this poem was rock bottom for me, and then it happened.

We have a group of writers here who go by the name of The Pen rocks. Everything had stood in the way of our meetings of late, but finally we got together. What a meeting we had! We were so glad to see each other, we were like a bunch of kids turned loose in the first snow. The ideas began to flow, and I began to get gloriously intoxicated on thoughts.

One irrepressible lady who sits on the floor, her skinny little legs clasped in her equally skinny little arms, gave me more in two or three hours than my thirsty soul could hold. The next morning, on my way to town for groceries, I stopped to thank her. It went on for another hour.

But the day still had more. In the afternoon our young minister came  out to our country home. There was another session of exchanging ideas, drawing out creativity, gaining spiritual strength. All the food I have eaten for months hadn't given me what these two people, one a Catholic, and one a Reformed Church in America pastor gave me in one afternoon and one evening.

After our Pastor Voskuil left, my Mr. B. and I went to Fond du Lac to shop around a bit. I spent $1.04. You see, I didn't need anything material. I was full-up on soul food, friendship, caring, creativity. We had talked about this.

Perhaps our shortages are going to bring us back together as caring people, rich or poor, antique minded or otherwise. We have always known that the quantity of anything is not as important as the quality. When husbands withhold love from their wives their pocketbooks often suffer.

And we want you to know, our steam-minded husbands, that many of us understand, your fascination with your 'huffa puffas, (as that one dear little boy called them) is your gate to communication. It is your pathway, not only back to yesteryear, but your machinery toward renewal.

Don't think we have missed that youthful twinkle brought back to your eyes as you steam up Big Jenny or Purring Patsy. We fell in love with that youthful twinkle. And we are happy now to see you open your nostrils to the smell of steam, and to see you tie your red bandannas around your pulsing  Adam's apples. We know you are having the time of your life, and we are happy for you. We are a little choked up ourselves as nostalgia sweeps over us.

But surely we always have to be careful that we don't get carried away on the wings of remembering. Today is here with us, and tomorrow right around the corner. Our world is a tremendous challenge as we see it RIGHT NOW.

Equally important is the fact that we must be ready for eternal life, when the last dark clouds eventually envelope us. Surely we can trust a God who has made earth so interesting, to do even a better job in heaven. There is a fascinating book 'HEAVEN AND THE ANGELS' which is put out by the Osterhus Publishing House. It stresses this point. I read it when I need a lift, and it has made my expectation of heaven rich and wonderful. It is so reasonable, and to me so right. I bought two copies, one to keep and one to share. You may wish to do the same. The price is $1.00 a copy and my postage here to Wisconsin was 24c for the two. The address is 4500 W. Broadway, Minneapolis, Minn. 55422. The author is H. A. Baker. The book has not been copyrighted nor ever will be. You see, it is for sharing.

I only spent $1.04 in Fond du Lac. Maybe your husband won't mind you spending $2.24 for two books. It isn't for nothing that we read 'when you see these things begin to come to pass, look up, for your redemption draweth nigh.' In the midst of our despair at the face of things we can still cry, 'HALLELUJAH! and AMEN!'