Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Beauty of Callused Hands

I enjoy the opportunity I have to read the blogs that my friends submit each month.  We really are blessed to live where we live and have the lives that we do.  Occasionally though, I take a look outside of our little town at the rest of the world.  One thing is certain, and that is change.  While I try to embrace changes that make life better or difficult tasks easier, there are a lot of changes that I quite frankly just don’t like.
My grandfather, Maurice Raban immigrated to the United States from France. His story is one that I hold very close to my heart.  I think of him often.  I also think of the things that he did that made him, and those of his generation great. Maurice came to this country by boat when he was not quite 8 years old.  He remembered standing on the deck while they were pulling into New York Harbor and hearing the people around him weeping.  His young child heart didn’t yet understand the great sacrifices those who traveled with him had made to come to the Land of Liberty where they could pursue their hopes and dreams.  He traveled with his uncle and aunt, and his grandparents who had given up everything they ever knew – their lands, their homes, their security, their language, their culture, and even most of their family and loved ones.  Grandpa Maurice might have been a little like me, when I was a child… He was precocious, and found himself on the wrong end of the discipline spectrum more than once. He was raised by his aunt, even though his mother lived in the Round Valley area.  When he was young, he went to work in California with yet another aunt.  This situation, however, was not good, and my grandfather was homesick and wanted to return not to France, but to St. Johns.  He was 13 years old when he packed his bag, and left his aunt’s home in Bakersfield, through a back window. 
Maurice did not have the means to travel home. He found work in a dairy, in California not far from his aunt’s.  He asked the farmer for a job, just until he could earn enough to pay for his way back.  The farmer and his family loved young Maurice.  The farmer asked him to stay, and promised he would be loved as though he was the farmer’s son.  As great as the offer was, the boy wanted to go home, and did just that.
Maurice, like most who lived in those days spent the rest of his life working not only with his mind, but with his hands, and his legs and his back.  He farmed; he took care of his family, and their animals.  He knew how to use a shovel, and how to manipulate the earth so that it provided enough for him, and those for whom he had stewardship over.
We don’t do that anymore.  In our world today, we hear of those who wait for someone else to do the work.  Please don’t misunderstand me!  I love the convenience of life in 2014. I am concerned though, that we are forgetting how to raise a garden, and put away for winter.  Our food generally comes from a corporate farm or ranch in a place few of us have ever seen!  Our kids are forgetting what a shovel is for, and that callused hands come after the blisters have healed.  They don’t know that Smuckers doesn’t make the best jelly and jam!
I am not a dooms day kind of person.  But, I can’t help thinking that if things continue as they are, at some point our living here will put us among the safest, most desirable places to be, because we are out of the way, and self-sufficiency is in our blood.
So, let’s continue to change what is good, and beneficial, but let’s not change the fiber of who we are.  Let’s not let the self-sufficiency and the ability to wear out a shovel escape us. Let’s keep our gardens, and our orchards, and our flocks and our herds healthy and strong. 
My grandfather Maurice, and probably your grandfathers too, left a legacy that surely is not just destined to be a footnote in history. It seems more and more likely that their legacy will be the roadmap for us and future generations of their families to live by, in order to preserve their posterity and ours!
Jeff Raban


  1. Love the title. Never thought of them as beautiful but they are. Agree completely neighbor. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Such beauty! There's nothing more beautiful scene kid knows how to work. Sometimes we want to spare our kids the hard things thinking it will be better for then. And sometimes it's hard for us because we have to get out and work with them, but in the long run it really pays off

  3. Love. Love. Love! This post. Thank you for your thoughts.

  4. This is awesome