The farmhouse I grew up in was built in the 1880s and started out with two rooms. Through the years a kitchen was added and then later, an indoor bathroom and enclosed back porch for firewood and other storage. Originally, of course, it had no electricity. Under the leadership of President Roosevelt, the Rural Electrification
The farmhouse I grew up in was built in the 1880s and started out with two rooms. Through the years a kitchen was added and then later, an indoor bathroom and enclosed back porch for firewood and other storage. Originally, of course, it had no electricity. Under the leadership of President Roosevelt, the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) started helping the “common” farmers in 1935. Most of the house had just one outlet in each room and one ceiling lamp except for the kitchen, which had extra outlets for appliances. Our house was dark at night: no night-lights, appliances with lights, or any of the other items that now keep our modern homes well lit inside and out.
Our farm during my childhood was dark, too — no security lights on our property or any others that I could see in the distance. City lights to the north were few; we could see the aurora borealis some nights. Those scared me at first, but I knew I would be safe as long as Dad was there.
As a child, I could “navigate” around in the dark house quite well. I knew where things were, such as doorknobs, the stairway, and my bed. My younger brother and I would sometimes go outside in the dark. At times we would lie on our backs on a tarp or wagon and marvel at the immenseness of space and the stars. Sometimes after staring at the endless stars, I would wonder why we didn’t just drift off into space like a speck of dust or a dandelion seed?
In my summer before 7th grade, Dad and I rode the train from Fort Wayne, IN to Providence, RI to visit his parents. I remember going to sleep there at twilight but waking up with this intense light coming through the window although the clock showed only midnight! I actually thought it was the second coming of Christ! I went to the window fully expecting to see the Heavenly Host but instead saw a large light on a pole outside the window! That was the first night I ever slept anywhere with outside lights.
One summer, at our tractor mechanic’s shop, I saw a small solar powered windmill and was totally amazed! It was inside a clear glass bulb, and yet it spun by just the sun’s rays hitting it. I knew then I had to experiment with solar energy for my next “Science Fair” project. I spoke with Miss Brown, the “nice” science teacher, about this and she showed me some science magazines with solar kits in them. I bought a kit from Bell Labs to make my own solar energy cells. This was a bigger “ordeal” than expected. I had to cure various layers on top of postage stamp size silicon wafers, heating them for hours in my mom’s oven at the highest temperature it would go to. I needed distilled water for washing the wafers at various steps. I thought I would just make my own by boiling water in the teapot and letting it condense by hitting a metal pot lid I was holding. All I will say about this method is that to this day I marvel at the low price of a gallon of distilled water in a store! I’m sure commercial distilled water is not refined by the same technique I tried.
When I had the cells done, I took them into the school’s science lab, and Miss Brown helped me test them. With the test meter on the most sensitive settings, we found output of a few millivolts and milliamps. I was disappointed that the cells didn’t produce more, but I had a project. I then bought two small cells from a hobby shop so I could power a small electromagnet and make a compass wiggle. Science fair night started out fine. I had my poster board and colored pencil explanations at the back of my space. I was demonstrating my project and visiting others, an interesting night. But then, in center of the display area, the “mean” science teacher loudly accused me of destroying the multimeter I had used to test the cells. He said that this meter had cost the school over $200 and I was careless, didn’t care, was a worthless student, etc. I didn’t have any response, and it wouldn’t have mattered if I did. I felt like a toad facing a bulldozer. The whole school soon heard I did something horrible and must be a criminal. I know now that I was wrongly and unfairly accused, how would a few milliamps from a tiny solar cell ever destroy a meter? Why did this accusation have to happen in public? Needless to say, that destroyed the rest of my evening and my inner “clockwork” for days. The only good that has ever come from this is that I never accuse someone of anything without first trying to get all the details. Even then I often hesitate and say nothing.
Someday the truth about all things will be known, the entirety of our lives will be brought out into the light, Apostle Paul, “Therefore judge nothing before the proper time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” And from Wise King Solomon, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
I’m sure this “teacher” attacked me because he saw me alone, like a young lamb separated from the flock. I know if my dad, who was a radio specialist in WW2, had been with me he would have protected me. The same for when our life is reviewed. Those of us who know Jesus and accept His Sacrifice for us will have the universe’s best lawyer beside — actually in front of us — on that day.
Decades later, I can still feel the pain of being unfairly accused and publicly humiliated when I think about that meter. I have forgiven the “mean teacher” because Jesus “first forgave us” and because it’s healthy for us to let go of past hurts. What is infinitely more important, deeper than the stars on a dark night, is to focus on the one who said: “I am the light of the world; he who comes with me will not be walking in the dark but will have the light of life.”
- January 16, 2019