Inspired by the Super Bowl ad, I am sharing this quick note.
This commercial was not only my favorite ad from the advertising blitz that is the Super Bowl, but it may also have been my favorite part of the entire game.
See, to me it wasn’t an ad about a company, but a cognitive visit to times and places I don’t visit often enough.
Paul Harvey was a standard at my grandparents home. Breakfast, lunch and Saturday’s always were accompanied by the sound of Paul Harvey’s voice booming over the radio. I will never forget the sound of his voice. Even as a young boy, I took pleasure in the stories he would tell, and the commentary on news items. If I wanted to eat at Grammy and Grampy’s, it meant I had to listen to Paul Harvey on the radio. Like it or not, it was on, everyday. Soon enough I liked to listen to him tell us the news. We had no updates, tweets, and texts, we just listened. We listened to the news being told to us, and often times we discussed. There was no quick status update, that gets lost in our engagement of other things, alerting us of something going on, we just listened to Mr. Harvey.
So, when this ad ran during the game the other night, I froze, and I listened. The sound of Paul Harvey’s voice took me to a small table, barely big enough to sit two folks, but we always sat more, in my grandparents kitchen. The room was too small, and always too hot, but it gave freely of healthy snacks, our favorite soft drinks (water and orange juice), thoughtful prayer, genuine laughter, sound advice, and the sound of Paul Harvey on the radio.
So, it was just me, alone in an otherwise silent room, and the TV filled with priceless images that took me to another place along with the words.
“So God Made a Farmer…”, melodic and meaningful, the words and images brought tears to my eyes. These farmers, or the people described in the essay Paul Harvey delivered, were the people I grew up around.
I was taken back to the old homestead in New Brunswick and to the properties of my aunts and uncles. When I was old enough to understand all that went into their lifestyle, their work week, I marveled from within. These were special people, the greatest people I have ever known. Both sides of my family had these ingredients firmly established into the fabric of who we are.
They were resourceful. They were thoughtful. They were giving of themselves to a degree most of us wouldn’t understand. They were happy. Their eyes hinted at joys and treasures only they knew. They were creative, found solutions, and were up and running in the time it would take us to drive to the store that has everything, to buy what was needed. They were gentle and caring while tough enough to face anything, including our misguided youthful behaviors. They were funny. They were true, honest, and loving even when nobody was watching. They appreciated all things far more than we ever knew. They were real, felt things, and struggled in the privacy of their own moments so as to be the face we needed to see. They were busy always, but rarely delved into the trivial. They provided for us and others even when it was beyond their means. They cared deeply for, and respected all things living. They took us to church, sang in the choir, took leadership positions among men, and led every hour of every day. They were Godly, they were blessed, and they walked closely with Him.
These are the things I heard, saw, and remembered all from the one TV ad. With the benefit of technology, I rewound the ad several times, and watched it again and again. Then I turned down the TV and listened to the full speech Paul Harvey delivered in 1978 , a couple of times through. And I thought. I remembered. I thanked God for these wonderful people in my life, and I thanked Him for making the farmer.
And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.
“I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon — and mean it.” So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from ‘tractor back,’ put in another seventy-two hours.” So God made a farmer.
God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church.
“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.'” So God made a farmer.