I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom these days. When you farm or have a ranch, I think it is clear that all sorts of regulations curtail your activity. You cannot do what you want with your land and your crops. I am not judging the value or nuisance of all the curtailments/regulations that exist; I am just saying they are there. But as I look back, I wonder how so much could have happened in my lifetime. How did we lose so much freedom? I remember my grandfather refusing to take/follow a government program that required him not to plant anything on many acres of his farm. He could be paid for not growing anything on that land. I was just a little girl, but I remember my grandfather’s anger at the government; it could tell him what he must do with his land. My grandfather had come from Germany with nothing to come to the “land of the free.”
He was experiencing the American Dream that brought him to this country. He worked hard, acquired land, tilled the land, built a home and farm buildings, acquired more land, and became a very successful farmer in Iowa. His barns were full of hay, the cribs were full of corn, and another building we called the grainey, was full of wheat, oats, and barley. And my grandfather had so many cattle and hogs to sell each year that he was allowed to ride in the caboose of the train that took the animals to the Chicago stockyards.
My grandfather was one of those immigrants we keep talking about when we declare that we are a nation of immigrants. He was proud, courageous, entrepreneurial, stern, generous: a man of faith. He raised a large family, was tutor to many, and was one of the most industrious people I have known. He lived past eighty. He never gave us money, but he always provided opportunities for us to earn money. He was quiet but far from mute when it mattered. He was a great teacher when we desired to be students. George Meyer was an amazing man.
I was in high school when he passed away. But the image of my grandfather is clear in my memory bank. So are all of the things that he taught me–not so much with words, but by who he was. He built a very large three-family home on his beloved farm. My first four years of life were spent in the “big house.” The attic was full of treasures. The farm was full of adventure. I had many wonderful questions to ask, and so many incredible opportunities to learn, to test the boundaries, and learn the parameters of faith–in others, and more importantly, in myself. My grandfather was my early model.
Grandpa didn’t say it so many words, but I think he taught me that only the God-given fruit of the Spirit are free–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)