Paint the Way

Paint the Way

Photo Credit: Stephanie Irvin

Merry Christmas and God’s Blessings for the coming year!

Listen to: Paint the Way

Paint the Way

By David De Jong

Relax, sit back, close your eyes, and humor me,
Let these few words, come to life, and set you free.

Imagine, imagine with me if you will,
A pair of horses, walking up a hill.

An old cowpoke sitting in the saddle aslant,
His paint taking lead, just a slow steady gant.

His hat weathered felt, stained from sweat and torn,
The saddle he rides; polished leather, soft and worn.

His face strained from a lifetime outdoors, browned in the sun;
A hearty laugh from deep in his soul; he was loving it, having fun.

Trailing behind, is a young green-horn rider gent,
There just to earn a living; spending every cent.

Where the old man and the paint where leading, he didn’t know,
All that crossed his mind was – the clouds, sure looked like snow.

They took a trail the younger never seen or rode before,
They meandered down a draw, then along the river’s shore.

The air was cold and quiet; the wind – just dead still,
Quiet before the storm? It made the younger ill.

A soft stomp, or clop of the hoof and an occasional leap,
Two horses continued; the climb, never too steep.

Nary a word was uttered by either rider,
Each alone; yet knowing, they rode together.

The younger – restless, and loosing all sense of patience,
Started festering – questioning the old man’s intelligence.

“Why – Why on earth are we taking this trail – this trail today?”
“Even I, green as I may be, can tell, snow is definitely on the way!”

The old cow-hand just kept riding, kept to himself but shed a smile,
He knew in his heart – this ride wasn’t easy but would last quite awhile.

They had long left the river bank far below,
The air turning crisp – each breath would show.

The horse’s mane and winter hair; thick and long,
Muscles flexing in their legs; lean but strong.

They were just as pleased to be in the cool mountain air,
Stride by stride, they made a most graceful pair.

Winter sure been visiting this side of the crest,
The days growing shorter, the sun slipping west.

Soon, they’d make camp, rest for the night,
The old man knew exactly where – just out of sight.

They held up just inside the timber line,
The air now frosty and turning fine.

They hobbled their horses, fed them some grain, built a small fire,
Both riders stepping awkward – they were stiff as wire.

Warmed by the glowing coals and a belly full of grub,
The older gent, still quiet – just aggravated the young chub.

He began to regret this time – this old-man’s trail,
He moaned and groaned and cursed to no avail.

The old timer just picked up his bedroll and found his spot,
Bedded down over buried rocks and coals – plenty warm – not too hot.

A quiet verse and a prayer of thanks, he soon fell asleep – content with the day,
Meanwhile, the younger still fretted and fussed – there was snow on the way!

As they slept, the earth was refreshed, pure and white,
First winter’s snow fell sleepily, all through the night.

The young lad awoke, with a temper already in his voice,
“Of all the trails I’ve rode – this is the worst by my choice.”

He kicked the snow, dusted his saddle, and cursed the old man,
He was certain he knew better and it was about to hit the fan.

The old rider – coffee – long spent,
Just ignored the ranting flint.

“Saddle up” – he said, at once to the lad,
He knew – this could be good or just go bad.

The old cowpoke and his gentle paint again took the lead,
Past the timberline now, nothing grew, not even a weed.

Just over the crest he reverently stepped down, reining the paint,
Turned his head sideways to listen – he could hear it – ever so faint.

Slowly the volume gathered as it came up the pass,
Strings and voices reverberating off the lake of glass.

Far, deep, down the valley below where the snow softly still fell,
Smoke lifted up from a scant white church, nestled in the high chaparral.

As the cinders climbed up through the air,
Voices, angelic, rose up the mountain stair.

It was early Sunday morn and the choir practice had begun,
Unknowing their message’s reach, they sang just for fun.

With ice covering the lake and snow blanketing the ground,
There was no end to the beautiful chorus – a stirring sound.

The young cowpoke, still in the saddle, just sat in disbelief,
His anger now regrets, he had let it take him, just like a thief.

Never could he have dreamed, never would he have known;
This blessing, this gift, indescribable, unless he was gently shown.

The trail had been long, winding, and trying a might,
What it brought him to, was pure – heavenly delight.

Just the view of the valley, the peace, the choir, the snow,
He could feel his heart, beat for beat relit, reclaimed with glow.

The old man finally broke his silence, these gentle words he spoke with love,
This day and each you awake to is a gift – a gift from God above.

No matter the trail, the ride, or the loss,
Take heart my son, keep your eye on that cross.

Never forsake the time you have been given, to live for yourself,
Share your heart with those you love, keep your Bible off the shelf.

Give to your neighbor, when he needs a hand,
Someday he’ll return the favor, and with you stand.

When the trail gets long, lonely and you feel in need,
Hold fast in faith to the Lord and follow His lead.

In His care, rest assured, you will stay,
Surrender to Him and He will Paint the Way.

The younger started to thank the old man for leading him on this ride,
When he turned to look, the old cowboy had left from his side.

He looked up and down the slope, left then right,
The old man and his paint completely vanished from his sight.

How? – Who? – Could this be?
The old man, had set him free.

He now understood the old man’s words, took off his hat and bowed to pray;
“Lord, thank you – for your blessings, your gifts today,”

“Now and forever, I will follow what you say,”
“Just take the lead and paint the way.”

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