04/05/04 — OPINION -- Callings

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OPINION -- Callings

By Gene Price
Published in News on April 5, 2004 1:57 PM

Dr. Robert Shackelford has a great repertoire of stories -- most of them real-life accounts of real people.

He and Paul Garrison and I were drifting the Neuse below Pitch Kettle Creek recently when "Shack" came up with this one about a youngster who grew up in rural Lenoir County. The boy's family was trying to make it on a hardscrabble farm in the wake of the Great Depression.

The boy was taking a break from his chores one day and was gazing into the heavens, hoping for some inspiration.

Clouds can form fascinating shapes -- things like whales and birds and even angels. On this particular day, the farm boy saw three letters formed by the clouds: "G P C."

Suddenly he realized it must be a message from the Almighty. He looked around the farm which offered a lifetime of hard labor and limited, unpredictable rewards. This helped him interpret the message in the heavens:

"Go Preach Christ!"

He ran over to the edge of the field to wait for his father, who was coming toward him with the mule and plow.

"Papa, I've been called to the ministry! Look up there, it says G P C and that is bound to mean 'Go Preach Christ,'" he announced excitedly.

The old man gazed into the heavens, handed the reigns to his son, and said, "Maybe so, boy -- eventually. But right now it means Go Plow Cotton."