David R. Currie
A Rancher's Rumblings
July 17, 2007


On Sunday, I preached at First Baptist Church, Paint Rock, my home church. Since I had sheep and goats on my mind, I used that biblical text. You know, the interesting thing about that text is that it appears that neither good deeds nor bad deeds are “planned deeds.” They are deeds that, rather, come out of one’s character—more precisely, out of one’s relationship with the living Christ or the absence of such a relationship.

That understanding leads me to the conclusion that caring and showing compassion is simply the way that we Christians are to live. When we are vengeful, insensitive, and hateful rather than forgiving, caring, and compassionate, it is likely that we are not walkingwith Christ, no matter how much we talkabout Him.

I was pleased with the crowd at the church—about 40 people, most of whom I had not met before. I was encouraged by the diversity, especially in ethnicity and age—two Hispanic families were there, as were a few teenagers, in addition to some new folks who had moved into town in recent years. Giving me special pleasure, of course, was Mother’s presence.

Preaching in Paint Rock brought back a flood of memories. I shared that, in 1972—at only 19—I was interim pastor there and, on Sunday evenings, more than half the crowd would be my kin. Today, out of all of those family members, only Mother remains.

In that church building, I have preached the funerals of Uncle Floy and Aunt Lois, Aunt Ruby, Aunt Mary, and my cousin Gwen. I’ve had the honor of saying “last words” over several other “old-timers” at that church, too, mixed in with a few words about Jesus.

All of you know by now that I like being a rancher. I like having those roots. I feel at home down at the feed store and enjoy talking with the folks there.


Being in Paint Rock, which still has a population of fewer than 300 (as it did when I was in high school), reminded me of a passage that one of my favorite writers, Wendell Berry, wrote in his short story, “The Wild Birds.” It’s a story about life in a small community. I’d like to share that passage with you:

I know how you think it ought to be, Wheeler, I think the same as you. I even thought once that the way things ought to be was pretty much the way they were. I thought things would go on here always the way they had been. The old ones would die when their time came, and the young ones would learn and come on. And the crops would be put out and got in, and the stock looked after, and things took care of. I thought, even, that the longer it went on the better it would get. People would learn; they would see what had been done wrong, and they would make it right.

And then, about the end of the last war, I reckon, I seen it go wayward. Probably it had been wayward all along. But it got more wayward then, and I seen it then. They began to go and not come back – or a lot more did than had before. And now look at how many are gone – the old ones dead and gone that won’t ever be replaced, the mold they were made in done throwed away, and the young ones dead in wars or damned automobiles, or gone off to college and made too smart to come back, or gone off to easy money and bright lights and ain’t going to work in the sun ever again if they can help it. I see them come back here to funerals – people who belong here, or did once, looking down into coffins at people they don’t have anything left in common with except a name. They come from another world. They might as well come from that outer space the governments are wanting to get to now.


I have a dream, that in parts of my life’s journey, I have been able to experience and feel some of the same things as my Great-Grandfather David, Grandfather W. G., and Dad Joe Roy, all buried in Paint Rock . . . the things that they experienced and felt as they lived and worked the land. I dream that “the mold they were made in” wasn’t “throwed away,” after all. In my dream, I see Lance and Chad, no matter how successful they are in their other pursuits, experiencing those same feelings through the years and passing them on to their children. So, as generations pass away, their experiences are passed on through the generations that follow them, and life goes on.