Saturday, May 14, 2022

A Higher Vantage Point


I don’t get to a modern church very often today.  That was something I did since I was young and had no choice in the matter. But I love to spend Sunday mornings out in the woods somewhere or off on the river, where I feel closer to God than anywhere else I have ever been. I don’t like to be around a lot of people, I like being outdoors alone as often as possible. But I am not at all anti-social.  In the last few years I have spent a great deal of time speaking to folks in churches or various places  around the Ozarks, and I enjoy that.  In fact I will be speaking this coming Saturday evening at the Shepherd of the Hills.  I have the same weakness, I suppose, as many of the old timers I grew up around, in the pool hall back in my hometown. I do a lot better at talking than listening!

       But I do listen to what God has to tell me out on some lonely ridgetop after the turkey hunters and mushroom hunters are gone, and I shut up and listen.  God doesn’t tell us all the same things.  That’s because men are different, and I have been told often that I am.. uh… different. 

       A few years back Gloria Jean went to church one Sunday morning as she often does, in her car, perhaps thinking I would show up later as I sometimes do, in my old pick-up.  Instead, I reclined on the couch and decided to stay there where it was decidedly more comfortable than a church pew.  I turned on TV thinking I would find some TV preacher to argue with, and Bonanza was on.

       I suppose if you have read this column often you know I hate TV.  I truly believe that if there is a devil somewhere with a tail and horns, his most valuable tool is a television set.  He’d rather see any of his tools taken out of modern society than that box in the living room that he uses so well.  I have that wicked box in my house to watch football and baseball on occasion, the news and weather, Bonanza, Gunsmoke and similar old Westerns, and shows about nature and wildlife…period. That Sunday morning years ago, it was either an episode of Bonanza I haven’t seen or one I can’t remember.  The older I get, the better the old westerns get, because I have forgotten I saw them before.

       And that morning, just after Little Joe had been shot in the leg, the TV quit working. So I climbed up on the roof via a somewhat shaky ladder to whack the antennae similator, not knowing anything else to do.  I congratulated myself on being so nimble and athletic at that late stage in my life, that I could still climb up there and do such a thing, but the ladder which enabled me to get on the roof had just up and fell, and the wisdom of my years told me  I was not going to get down without considerable risk, even in my top-notch ‘grizzled old veteran outdoorsman’ condition. 


       My rooftop, on the highest ridge in this whole county, is a very high rooftop, shaded by big oaks.  It is really beautiful from up there, and it is a remarkable way to look at oak trees I have seen so often from the bottom.  I saw an oriole and a tanager, and one little humming bird sat on a limb not ten feet away, wondering what I was.  A blue jay screamed at me, a cardinal sang to me and a fox squirrel in a hickory out in the lawn ate breakfast while I watched.



       To end this story… Gloria Jean came home eventually, saw me sitting on the roof as she drove up the gravel driveway and was convinced I had decided to commit suicide by jumping off.  Therefore, she was in no hurry to interrupt anything. 

       You might ought to try sitting on your roof sometime on Sunday morning if you live way out in the country. Take a cushion.  It is still and peaceful and you see things from a different point of view.  I probably won’t do it again but I don’t know that I will go to church any time soon either.  I may go down to the river by myself and look at things from a really low spot, now that I have looked at things from so high up.  I may talk to God from there a little, and listen for his voice and his advice. The river is a great place to just be quiet and listen, and the smallmouth really get active this time of year. 


       This week I intend to go night fishing at Norfork Lake, so those of you who are disappointed that I have not passed on any really exiting fishing stories lately might look forward to next week’s column, which ought to really be good. 


       You can find lots of outdoor reading in my latest issue of the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor magazine.  To find out how you can get a copy, just write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or call my executive secretary, Ms. Wiggins, at 417 777 5227.   My e-mail address is



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