I've written a lot of unfinished stories about my grandparents' cabin in the country throughout my life.
from the time I was just learning to read, I could feel the stories rushing through me whenever we visited.
stories grow as numerous and untamable as wildflowers there. one moment you are walking steadily along the edge of my grandpa's alfalfa field. the next moment you are tripping over the most beautiful light you've ever seen slipping through the edge of the trees. and if you don't shake yourself awake quick as you can, you find yourself staring off into the distance daydreaming. your mind wrapped around nothing in particular, but feeling more alert than ever before.
if while in this daydream, you listen very carefully, you can hear hundreds, maybe thousands of untold stories. my six-year-old sister and I would like to believe these stories are being whispered by forest fairies, but I'll let you decide that for yourself.
everything about the cabin is magic. from the daytime when the clouds are unpredictable and huge and white and grey and gold and the grass is a sharp green, to the nighttime when the stars are thrown like glitter across a black canvas sky and barn owls perch on tin mailboxes. you are constantly catching your breath. adventure is always outside the front and back door.
for almost twenty years of going to the cabin, my dad had stared with wonder at a little yellow plane flying low over corn fields and looping through the vast sky. he had heard some about the man in the plane. how he kept it at his farm. how he was a daredevil.
but what we hadn't heard was how he had learned to fly or where he had gotten the plane. he and his little yellow plane were somewhat of a mystery - another story to daydream about while sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch, head cocked back at the clouds.
for the past few visits, we had talked about going to find the yellow airplane owner to beg him to see it, maybe even beg for a ride, definitely beg for a story.
"and this time, we're going to do it."
my dad, Christian, Lauren, and I rattled down the gravel road in Grandpa's little, red Mustang. windows cranked down. excitement cranked up.
we pulled up to a farmhouse and dad and I jumped out. my camera hanging from my neck & an anxious smile hanging from my father's mouth.
a little old man and his little old wife answered the door. we explained who we were and what we were after.
"oh that's our son's plane! let us just give him a call! he lives a couple corn fields down! you can drive over there if you want! just follow the grass around the barn and drive along the corn until you get there! and here! do you want some apples? how about a cat? do you want to sit down and stay? now how did you say you were related to Julie again? oh, she's your aunt? we pray for her every day! let me get you a bag for apples! are you sure you don't want to sit? I'm ninety-three so I don't get out to pick apples as much as I should! someone dropped these stray cats off, do you want one?"
we thanked them for everything, declined the cat, but picked some apples and said we'd visit again soon. then we headed around the barn, past the hanger, and arrived at a little cabin home. nobody was there and our disappointment was pretty huge. but we decided to come back later...
by the time we got some fluid for the Mustang, headed back to the cabin, and spent some time relaxing, it was late afternoon. my grandparents had taken the Mustang out on a date-drive, and Lauren, Christian, and I were waiting to spring for it when they got back.
we heard them come in the door and I turned to my dad and asked if he was ready to go.
"you guys go ahead. I'll just stay here and help mom with the little girls."
I could tell by the look on his face that he was afraid of being disappointed again.
so off my sister and my husband and I went for the second time that day, in hopes of finding the man with the airplane.
we drove up to the little log cabin house, and our hearts sunk when still, no one was home. we decided to drive around the cornfield again anyways so that we could at least see the plane in it's hanger.
after snapping the best pictures we could, staring dejectedly into the cockpit, and wondering what it would feel like to fly in such a small plane, we piled back into the Mustang.
"let's drive past the house one more time," Lauren suggested.
we turned the corner of the field and I sucked in my breath.
"THE GARAGE DOOR IS OPEN."
my sister let out a half-strangled jungle cry and before I could blink, we had all jumped out of the car and were knocking on the front door and I was tripping over my words.
"HI! we're... we're... we're..."
who are we again!?
"we're John Gerst's grandkids..." my sister finished.
"yes! and we were wondering if you could take your plane out... maybe... please... sorry to bother you like this... please?"
"I would love to! it's no trouble!"
and as the grey-haired, kind-eyed farmer drove with us over to his plane, I asked if he ever gave plane rides. yes, he said. would he maybe please give one to each of us?
Farmer Williams told us that one day when he was in his thirties, he had been doing work for a complete stranger. the stranger had asked him if he liked to fly, and he had said yes. so the stranger had taken him up in his plane and let him fly it himself a little.
afterwards, the stranger had asked him if he wanted to get his pilot's license.
"it's something I had always wanted to do," Farmer Williams told us, "but when you have the time, you don't have the money. and when you have the money, you don't have the time. it's expensive and requires a lot of hours."
but then the stranger told him he could borrow his plane for however long it took. and the stranger hooked him up with an instructor and paid for it all.
"he was a complete stranger! I don't know why he did it!"
it made sense then that this farmer who was a perfect stranger to us, was so willing to take the time to tell us all about his plane and give us free rides in it. later he told us that he wouldn't ever dream of charging people. "it would take the fun out of it," he said. "besides, it only costs me about fifteen dollars in gas, and it gives me thirty dollars worth of smiles. so it's a profit for me."
he first flew Lauren over the cabin and they hollered and nose-dived until everyone was out in the grass waving. my family jumped in the Suburban. Dad's dream was finally going to come true.
he told us all about the plane. I wish I was more mechanical and could better describe it to you, but what I do remember is that he said this plane was made in 1939 and is very versatile. it doesn't need very much gasoline and can land practically anywhere. a lot of missionaries used to use these kinds of planes. in fact, Jim Elliot had the very same plane as the one we were flying in.
I've already written too much and posted too many pictures, but hey. it's not every day that dream becomes reality...
the country is somewhere you can feel lost and found all at once. you feel lost because you are able to look up at the sky and see just how small you are. you feel lost because you can soar up into the sky in a little yellow plane and see just how small everything is.
but more than anything, you feel found. because you realize that even though we are so small, there is a God who created every ounce of creation and still loves you and knows you and walks with you and cares for you and died for you and lives for you and promises heaven.
and sometimes, especially in the country, when you close your eyes and listen...
you hear heaven in the stillness of those hundreds, thousands of untold stories. you feel heaven in the wind whipping over the wings of a plane. you smell heaven in the fresh face of a wildflower. you trip over heaven in the sunlight. you welcome heaven from the kindness of a farmer/pilot. you laugh and cry over heaven when a twenty-year-old dream in the making comes true.
"I've got a home in Glory-land that outshines the sun... way beyond the blue."