For those that have resided in Oklahoma, you understand the lyrics of the song are accurate, “where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain, And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet, When the wind comes right behind the rain. OOOOk-lahoma, Ev’ry night my honey lamb and I, Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk makin’ lazy circles in the sky.”
During my years of early marriage, we spent approximately five years in Enid, OK, surrounded by ranches and wheat farms. How greatly I enjoyed watching the wheat flourish as the beautiful, golden, stalks waved and glistened before the harvest. The wheat harvest was not beneficial for our asthmatic son whom endured the symptoms during his infancy and pre-school years. Nonetheless, I recall it as a vivid and picturesque memory.
Oklahoma doesn’t possess the same beauty as the states with mountains, rivers, streams and tall majestic trees, but how I cherish the splendor and magnificence of the wide-open spaces as the brilliant sun sets upon those plains. Recently, I viewed Ken Burns, documentary on the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. As Ken noted, “this was one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of our country.”
Have you heard of the “next year” people? They are the optimistic people from the dark and incomprehensible days of the Dust Bowl which developed in the lower portion of the great plains. When the “next year people” realized their current year was a “miss” with their crops and finances they said “there is always next year.”
The dirt below each of us is land, soil, dirt or dust depending upon its’ form. For them, their land; the soil which had provided their food and financial security became something to be despised; the soil became dirt and dust which decimated everything in its’ path.
As I viewed this poignant documentary, I thought of our current situation causing life altering changes. While many of us are now wearing masks as we go outside our homes, the people of the dust bowl wore masks or wet towels over their heads and faces day and night inside their homes, as well as outdoors.
It is beyond comprehension, that in addition to the hardship of the dust bowl, the country was experiencing the great depression. Tearfully, these survivors shared of the nightmares they all experienced during one of the gloomiest eras of our US history. People were contracting dust pneumonia as rapidly as the virus which is now spreading throughout our country and the world.
As the dust filled the nostrils and lungs of animals and mankind, it became mud, suffocating those it affected, causing countless fatalities. Crops and livestock were annihilated as cattle died where they stood, unable to breathe. Crops were suffocated, buried under tons of dirt mounds.
Can we realize that even during these times of tremendous adversities, God is with us? NIV, Job 1:21, “…The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”