I was born blessed with the curse of caring. What an enigmatic statement that is. “Blessed with a curse.” Does that even make sense? When you are an overly-sensitive soul you may find yourself overusing words like: discernment, gut-feelings, sensing and empathy. The blessing in the curse is that you and I were chose to care. The curse is the burden the care exaggerates in those of us who aren’t created with an “off” button. How nice and comfortable life would be if I could just care for a moment and let it go. The curse. It’s never-ending this blessing of being cursed with care.
My father was a man of few words yet his heart spoke decades of compassionate wisdom. When me and my buck teeth first moved to Valley City in the early 80’s there was a girl who got teased incessantly. She was slightly mentally handicap and stood on the sidewalks of Central Avenue spewing out curse words at passing cars. The more she cursed the more the passing cars with teenagers would taunt her. She was always alone, mostly un-kept and there was a look on the surface of her eyes that told me there was something much deeper within. My brothers and I told our dad about this girl. Dad had a gentle compassion that saved many an animal and human from hurting. My father lived in Fargo but even from afar he gave us the advice that we should invite this girl over and friend her. It was beyond our realm of thinking that this girl would be capable of responding to us without cursing but together, that brother of mine and I took to action. First we just stopped to talk to her. “What’s your name,” is all it took to break the ice. We already knew her name but didn’t really know what else to say in our immaturity. We invited her over to our house to have a freezer pop. She didn’t curse when she was with us. She was rather entertaining and just wanted someone to recognize her as human, that she mattered and was seen. When my brothers and I got our driver’s licenses we invited her along to cruise Central Avenue like we teens were allowed to back in the day. I gave her my clothes and sometimes fixed her hair. There were times when we wouldn’t see her for long spells but whenever we did it was just us and her and nothing different about her. She just belonged. My father was a wise man for telling us to invite her into our lives. We got a new friend.
This week I was driving the long country road home. I drive this road at least once a day and sometimes multiple times. This particular day I drove it mindlessly like the thousands of other times I’d driven it in nearly ten years. Out of the corner of my eye something struck me. It didn’t strike me literally as in something hitting me. It struck my heart severely as if it were holding up a sign. I’m on gravel remember; driving along at a galloping pace. I applied the brakes, stuck ‘er in reverse and drove backwards to make sure that what I saw was really what I was seeing.
I’m certain I must have seen this kind of sight before, somewhere, so the severity of its effect on me was noteworthy. It happened in a field of beans.
For far and wide all I could see were beans. Sticking up high above the beans was one single stalk of corn. My cognitive mind explains that this more than likely happens quite often when –perhaps- corn was the crop of the year before the beans were planted. On this day though, the sign explaining the lesson came screaming from the stalk. That’s part of the blessing of the curse. Corn can talk and caring people can hear it!
I grabbed for my camera not because it was a beautiful shot but because it was a stunning, timely convicting, emotional message.
Look at the photo and just think of it.
Think of you.
Think of all of them.
Have you ever felt out of place, unaccepted or ostracized? Have you discerned that you just didn’t fit it? I’m positive the girl my dad so wisely told us to invite over and accept did.
Well this single stalk of corn showed itself as a powerful reminder that in a world of beans a single stalk of corn shows up as odd, peculiar and out of place but in a field of corn an entire row of beans would be completely invisible. No matter who you are or what you’re feeling like –YOU-are the corn and you are it perfectly! You belong. Grow strong, proud and confident where you’re planted. Invite the beans to grow around you. You’re going to need friends to combat the weeds I’ve not dared to make an analogy about yet. The world is full of them.
In seeing this sight I realized my blessing in caring is just a blessing. There is no curse involved. It’s all love. That’s what I plan on fertilizing.
Ingstad lives on the prairie near Valley City and writes this column for the Times-Record.