Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A Holy Mass by Susan L.

    A friend of mine gave me a gift like no other I've ever received before. On January 18, a Catholic Mass will be offered for the intentions of yours truly. I do not worship under that particular faith so I had to ask her to explain what it meant. From what I understand it is a request for a priest to pray for my soul. She assured me that although these types of prayers are often said for the dead, they are also commonly offered for the living.
  I am deeply touched by her gift. Prayer has a power beyond all reckoning.
  It was the summer of 2004. I was on my own because my now ex-husband was away, a long story. It was my responsibility to get the hay in. This meant getting the ancient equipment ready to mow the thirty acre field and when it was dry enough, bale it. I hated, feared and had a healthy respect for the steep hills that undulated through our hay field. Our tractor, a Massey 135, was from the 50's and lacked the safety features of newer models like a roll bar to protect the driver. I was acutely aware of the danger because my nearest neighbour had rolled his own small tractor and nearly died a couple of years previously.
  Thankfully he survived and kindly checked up on me a couple times a day. I was glad there was someone watching over me. I mowed as much as I could in a day under the hot sun of late June. It went well.
  The weather held sunny and warm for the time needed to dry this first mowing session.
  The baler, also from the 50's, was a much heavier piece of equipment, 3500 pounds. It strained the old tractor to its limits.  By ten the dew had lifted. It was time to start. I checked and double checked that all was hooked up, greased up and ready to go.
  My mouth was dry with fear as I mounted the tractor. I did something I had never done before: I sat quietly for a moment and prayed that I would be safe. My soul held a foreshadowing of something terrible happening.
  Jesus had yet to be a part of my life but somehow, I knew I needed to ask.
  Out in the field, the roar of the tractor, the sixty second ka-thunk, ka-thunk of the baler, the extreme vigilance needed to insure that all was running well kept me occupied. Just as I was about to head down the steepest part for the first time, eyes forward, tractor grumbling in low gear, there was a mighty crash and bang behind me. I whipped my head around. The metal power shaft had jammed and pulled free of the tractor. It was spinning freely, thrashing against the hitch and the back of the tractor because it was still connected to the heavy fly wheel of the baler. I killed the tractor's motor and leapt off. The shaft gradually slowed down and came to rest on the ground.
  There's a number of things that could have happened that day. Had the power shaft not jammed solid, my head would have been removed from my shoulders as it separated. Had the disconnect happened part way down, I wouldn't have been able to stop because the weight of the baler would have pushed me helplessly to the bottom of the hill. The heavy steel power shaft could have hit the ground and acted like a brake in the soft earth causing the baler to jack-knife.  Either of these scenarios could have flipped the tractor over in a matter of seconds. There would have been no time for me to jump clear. (I feel the fear even now!)
  It wasn't until that night that I realized my prayers had been answered. The self conscious words of one who didn't know what to believe in were heard.
  As a point of interest, the third generation farmers that now work that piece of land don't go anywhere near the hills. I was right to have been afraid. Thank You, Lord, that I am still here. And thank You for honouring my baby prayers.
  "Out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger." Ps 8:2

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