Have a little faith.
It’s one of those little phrases to get you through a rough spot in the road. As we get ready to celebrate Christmas, and especially this year, we all need to have a little faith; in God, in the Country and in your neighbors.
I want to share a little story of faith that a fellar from Manitoba shared with me one morning at a coffee shop, before I had to go to the airport. This old fellar was true cowboy, you could tell by his walk, his talk and his look. He said, “Let me buy you a cup of this black gold, you look like you’re the kind of fellar that might know what I’m talking about. You got a minute for a story, son?” As he took a drink, coffee was dripping off his whiskers and his old weathered and cracked hands trembled as he set the cup of life’s blood back on the table.
“Yes sir, I’d be honored,” I answered.
And so he began…
Well, it was about 1911 on a ranch in central Manitoba. Me and about 10 other fellars were working for a harsh man. He never broke a smile and he never let up for anyone to have a day off. I remember it was December and he would tell all the hands, “Don’t any of you start thinking you’ll get a day off for this thing you call Christmas.”
Them boys was justing wanting to spend time with their families on Christmas Day, and it just so happened this year it fell on a Sunday. Itwas Christmas Eve and me and the fellars were sitting in the saddle house and they kept urging me, “You’re the oldest and you been here longer… you talk to him! Ask if we can get off just this one time to go to the little church in town and celebrate this Christmas with our families.” When I built up the courage, I checked my cinches and pulled my hat down and trotted towards the big house, in a blinding and driving snow.
I got off my old horse, shivered the snow off and gave a few reluctant knocks on the door. You see, I didn’t have no family, just my old horse and a bedroll, so I had no post to lean on in this argument. But it was for them younger fellars. They did need a day with their families and their God.
The old man opened the door and as soon as I began to speak his face gave one of those looks that sent a cold chill into yor heart. I backed up slightly and in one breath I blurted out, “The boys would like to go to church and celebrate Christmas with there families, just this once.” His reply was short and bitter. “I don’t celebrate Christmas and I don’t go to church. What even makes you think there is a God in this cold, barren place?! God don’t know where we live! You tell them boys to get saddled and ready to go, we are going to push them old cows down here closer to feed.”
I road back defeated, and delivered the news.
I told them boys we still had a job to do. We road out and found most of them cows. We began to spread out to drive them back to headquaters, when the blizzard really picked up. Our pace got slower and slower as the storm worsened and soon we all had lost track of each other. Me and the boss man had circled around a group of cows in some timber when I lost sight of him completely. Hollering didn’t help over the whipping wind. In this storm, all I could do was try and find cover because a man could freeze to death out there pretty quick.
I don’t know for sure what happened but the Boss’ horse come running by me with no one in the saddle. I tried to back track to see if I could find anything. Unbeknownst to me, he had gotten off his mount and took a rope to try and get one yearling that was caught out on a drift. When he swung his rope he slipped and slid out to the edge that dropped off into a steep canyon. I could hear him hollering but couldn’t see exactly where he was through the thick snow. His rope had caught on an old pine knot and he was hanging off the edge of that canyon shouting, “Someone help me!”
The old man took a sip of coffee and continued, “Now this next part son, I can’t for sure explain or describe fully. But amongst all chaos I heard a voice I had never heard before rise above the wind and echo through the snowy plains…”
Have faith and let go of the rope.
I don’t believe in faith or God!” the Boss hollered, “I ain’t about to let go of the only thing keeping me alive!”
Have faith and let go of the rope.
I don’t believe in faith or God! I’d be crazy to let go of this rope!
I continued to look for the old man, but the snow just got worse and I couldn’t get through the draw to get over to where I thought he was. The next morning, the sky was blue and the ground looked like sifted flour over a chuck box lid. Me and the crew saddled up and set out to look for him. After about a four hour ride we found the rope and followed it over the cliff. There he hung, his hands frozen to the rope that he wouldn’t turn loose of. But the saddest part of the whole story was his boot heels were three feet from the ground.
The old man took a pause in his story and looked into his cup of black coffee. In a trembling voice he said, “Son we all have to believe in something and that hardened old man had nothing. You can’t see the wind blow but you can feel it. Faith isn’t always about seeing, it’s about believing.”
He got up with a slight limp and with a bent back he paid for our coffee, tipped his hat and left.
Folks, sometimes we don’t always understand the world we’re in and sometimes it’s hard to always see the path ahead, but have a little faith. Faith in God, in man and in country is exactly the Christmas present we all need right now.
From our camp to yours… we hope ya’ll have a Merry Christmas.