Gary Allison Furr
In the years I lived among the peanut farmers,
I breathed October dust and prayed for their harvests.
The church and all of the town waited for the yield,
To tell us what sort of year it would be.
Only a few restaurants, drugstores and movie rental places
No movie theaters, theme parks or malls,
But we had a John Deere tractor dealership out on the bypass
Where the farmers’ trucks had to pass by.
On the most prominent corner, right by the road
the latest double wheel model
with the air-conditioned cab and stereo system.
Plowing without dust and sweat! Hard to imagine
we were so far from the farmers with their mules in the old days,
on a forty-acre farm, working like the Devil to survive
lest the mule be repossessed or die.
But always there was the harrow, evolved from ancient times,
At first, only a tree branch, sharpened to punch open the ground,
The Romans first made them of iron to mass produce
And now they are rows of teeth or knives neatly arranged
Or deadly discs, sharp enough to kill a man, but modern
in their symmetry of tearing open the earth,
They rip open the crust so the seed can go deep, down
Into the moist fertility, then burst open and seek the light above.
“Harrowing” is near-death, danger, all our protection
Torn away from us, some sharp and deadly threat
Gashes open the layers of careful habit and insulation
until death and I stare back at one another
waiting for one of us to make a move.
The medieval Christians said that on Saturday Jesus,
Punched down under the tomb, all the way to the underworld
and preached to the souls in hell.
He led out all those who had no chance to know Easter,
Satan, surely, filed an immediate lawsuit against God
for breaking the rules and letting a dead man breach the underworld
to claim souls Satan thought were a sure thing.
“The Harrowing of Hell” was kept in the Creed
We shake our heads
at the primitive believer thinking He “descended into hell”
Even as we still survive by eating the bounty of earth’s puncture wounds.
Farmers still dig down to the only place where life can emerge.
We are deluded by surface coverings of asphalt and wireless noise
“Virtual” cannot feed the hungry or raise the dead.
For that, earth must be broken, hearts pierced, nails driven.
Down went the Son of God, into Hell itself.
I’d like to think a little disc-plowing is called for,
Some holes punched in hell still on this earth,
Right through hard-hearted souls who deny
there is anything under here worth looking at or saving.
I’d like to think the Son of God, even in the grave,
Cannot help but vanquish every poison weed and pestilence
that threatens the Garden that God put here for us all.
2 thoughts on “The Harrow”
So glad you sent this. I thought the way you used the harrow in the sermon yesterday was brilliant, and I am not alone in this opinion. I have heard several who have been in the church for a long time say that if this was not your best, it certainly ranks near the top. Thank you for being our preacher, but thank you even more for being our pastor.
Thank you, LaRue, for the privilege of being your pastor and friend.
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