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Aaron Johnson: What’s in the well?

My grandfather had a dug well beside his home with a concrete pipe fitted vertically atop.  On top of the concrete pipe, that was about three feet in diameter and stood about as high, rested a wooden lid. 

Some of my earliest memories are of being warned about that well. Rightfully, my parents and grandparents worried about their firstborn removing the sophisticated lid and falling into the well. The more they warned, the more desirable the well became.  

For reasons embedded in nothing but fear of my father, I never removed the lid on that well. However, on the side of that pipe was a hole just big enough to fit a hickory nut through. As fate would have it, a stately hickory tree stood at the corner of the drive and Patterson Street. If I couldn’t get into the well from the top, I could by the side entrance.

I found a strange delight in dropping a hickory nut into the well then quickly putting my ear against the hole to hear that unique sound when it plopped into the water. The well shaft added a resonance factor that was delightful. It sounded something like “kaluuugee.” Vibrations then echoed in the well shaft for almost a full second.  

Once my hobby was discovered, I was reprimanded and told to stop. Something about that sound made the fear of bodily harm diminish. When I ran out of hickory nuts, I used anything that would fit into the hole.  

For reasons that I don’t remember and can’t fathom, my grandfather favored that well water for his ice tea over the freshly plumbed city water. Vividly I remember him towering on the side porch with a freshly drawn bucket of well water for his tea. He looked down at me and asked, “Boy, have you been putting “hickernuts” in the well again?”  

There I stood; a guilty soul without a word of defense. Well I remember thinking of what to say. Then my grandfather lowered the bucket of water to my eye level. Floating on the surface was a family of hickory nuts, and the distinctive stick that had formerly supported a sucker given at the drive thru at Marshall-DeKalb electric cooperative. Busted.

In that moment I learned a fundamental truth in life. What’s in the well, comes up in the bucket. That truth is consistent with hickory nuts as well as attitudes and values.

Sometimes adversities in life force us to see ourselves as we really are. At best, we only think we know how we will react in a given circumstance. We THINK we know how we will react when the phone call comes that changed our lives forever. We THINK we know how we will react when the doctor gives us an expiration date on our lives. But when the call comes, when the doctor walks into your room, then and only then do we KNOW what is in the bucket.

What comes up in the bucket is a direct reflection of what we have put in it. If we pour good stuff into the wellspring of our hearts, then that is what the bucket of adversity will bring up. If we pour bitterness, hate, and greed into the same wellspring, then that is what the bucket of adversity will bring up.  

The problem is that we never know when the bucket will be lowered. Once the bucket falls the time for adding to the well has passed. 

What will you find in your bucket?

Aaron Johnson is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News. He is pastor of Christ Redeemer Church in Guntersville.

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