By Charles Towne

The elderly couple lived on their little farm way out in the country.
They owned this bag of bones mule that was getting a little long in the tooth.
The mule, (it went by the name of Mule) having seen its better days sometime in the previous millennium, usually stood dozing in the meager shade of a dead tree in their front yard half-heartedly swatting flies with its tail and patiently waited for death to pay it a visit.
The old lady had been pestering her husband all spring to get his bony butt out of his rocking chair, hitch up the mule and plow the garden but, the old man, as is the nature of old men everywhere, just sat there rocking away and puffing on his corncob pipe, while he watched the mule swat flies, as he said to his beloved, “There’s plenty of time old woman, plenty of time.

But, the garden went unplowed.

One day the old woman, with her hands on her hips and fire in her eyes, exclaimed, “Old man, if you don’t get out there and plow that garden, that worthless mule is going to croak and the garden ain’t never going to get plowed!”
To which the old man, still rocking away in his rocking chair, and puffing on his corncob pipe said, “Nope, that mule’s got many a year in him yet.  He ain’t a’goin t’ die until I say it’s time t’ die, and if he does, why; you can hitch me up and I’ll pull the plow m’self!”
Well, wouldn’t you know it… about two days later the old couple looks out and there that mule was, in all his glory, graveyard dead, yep, went to mule heaven he did.

No sooner had the old man settled himself in his rocking chair and was stoking up his pipe then the old woman came up dragging the mule’s harness.  She stood there tapping her foot, and staring at the old man.

Well, the old man knew when he was whipped, so he climbed out of his rocking chair and stood there as the old woman draped the harness on him and hooked him up to the plow.  Then she grabbed the reins, cracked the whip, and sure enough, the old man commenced to plow that garden and a right nice job he was doing too until they came to the end of the garden plot, and he just kept on going through a mean bramble patch, across the creek, and smack dab into a three strand barbed wire fence.
Well, there he was, all tangled up in that barbed wire, and bleeding something fierce.  He flopped down on the ground, couldn’t go no further.  He just laid there glaring up at the old woman.
  Well now, the old woman was fit to be tied, and she shouted, “What in tarnation is wrong with you old man, are you crazy or something?”  To which the old duffer said, “Fer crying out loud woman, don’t you know how to say whoa?”

Now it might be said that both of them, the old man, as well as the old woman, had unrealistic expectations

It also might be said that communication had broken down between the old folks, but there are those times, what with all of the frustrations, and when the whip of life is snapping at our ears, that we sometimes feel like shouting at God, “For crying out loud, don’t you know how to say whoa?
Please Lord, can’t you stop us before we run through the bramble patches of life, and across the creek of despair, to finally crash into that mean barbed wire fence, with its multiple strands of desperation, frustration, and…?”
And He whispers to us in that still small voice of His.  “So, you want me to say whoa do you?  I was hoping that when you felt the thorns in the bramble patch, you would stop and talk to me, but you didn’t.  
Then, when you came to the creek and nearly drowned I was sure you were going to stop, and ask me if that was really the way to do it, but… you didn’t,  but we got you through it anyway, didn’t we? 
Now son, when you crashed into that barbed wire fence; whose fault was that, mine?  I just knew you were going to call out to me, but no, you just kept frogging your way through it until it almost killed you.  
 Sometimes, as much as it pains me, I have to let you go.  I don’t want to do that, but if I didn’t, you never would learn, and… look how much you have learned.  I bet you are going to avoid bramble patches from now on, and please, no more muddy creeks, and certainly barbed wire fences are off limits, right?


Please Papa God, save me from my gross stupidity.  Teach me, show me your clear path, the true way the way to go so you can say to me, “Well done my good and faithful friend, I am so very proud of you.  Come on into my house and live with me and see what I have prepared for you.”

PS,  Please, O Holy God, inscribe my name in your book of life.  Amen

Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.


  1. Charles, I loved this one. Your use of stories to illustrate a point is still going strong. It is a shame that only a few of us benefit weekly from you gift. Keep it up my friend.

  2. Herb, as you well know, story is a powerful teaching aid and we get story from life, and from living to the fullest extent. I certainly appreciate your kind words. Bless you abundantly my friend and may you always hear Him whispering His love message. Chaz

  3. My biggest issue at times is not listening when The Lord is whispering. What a great reminder and as always, wonderfully written.God bless you and yours Chuck.

  4. Don, I imagine that what you describe in the issue of not listening is definitely a human problem and one that is quite common in today’s busy, busy, busy world. Listening is actually, to my way of thinking, the most important part of communication, don’t you agree? Blessings on you and yours, Chaz

  5. Two sayings come to mind. “Stubborn as a mule” he was in putting off the plowing despite the nagging and “”cut your nose off to spite you face” he was in continuing past the end of the row and into double trouble… I have to wonder if he would have stopped if his wife said “whoa” cause you know how us guys “never listen”.

  6. I am still laughing!! Having spent every summer in KY, at my grandparents’ farm, I can just envision this entire scenario. It is amazing at what we get ourselves into because we don’t do what we should, when we should. It becomes even more unbelievable when we try to blame others for our lack of resposibility. As always
    great article….great message.
    I don’t think you will ever run out of stories….and that’s good ’cause I
    love reading them. Bless you, Chuck!!

  7. Dear CSG, The chance of my running out of stories is unlikely because every day is an adventure, and life is never dull. Accepting responsibility is part of the story, as is being in the moment and the laughter and tears remembering each adventure years after the fact. It always pleases me that you are pleased. Blessings on you my dear friend, Chaz

  8. You always pay for an,education, sometimes with money, sometimes with blood, sweat and tears, but even the most stubborn eventually learn!
    But why do I have the feeling that during the old man’s trek, his wife was walking behind him thinking, ” just where the dickens do you think you are going you old fool? ” And I bet she was laughing to herself all the way!

  9. Oh Richard, your comment reminds me of the old lady that was expressing her anger at her husband of many years. I asked her what he had done that made her so mad, and without missing a lick she replied, “HE DIED!” Knowing her as I did I have an idea her husband was happier dead than he had been in all the years of their marriage, and she wasn’t laughing a bit! I have an idea that if he had a choice of where he would spend eternity he would say,”WHEREVER SHE ISN’T, BECAUSE WHERE SHE IS HAS TO BE HELL!” You take care pal, Chaz
    P.S. Say hi to Dimitri for me. C

  10. Jorge, what you refer to as scary isn’t so much scary as it is exciting because whatever He does we know it will be for our well being. From personal experience I can attest to the fact that the barbed wire can be some hurtful, and like sin, best avoided. Blessings and exciting times on you. Chaz

  11. Jorge, does the latter, which involves Papa God, really sound all that scary? To my way of thinking it sounds more exciting that scary. I know wherever He takes me it is for my well being!. Having oneself tangled up in barbed wire now, should, if at all possible , be avoided. I have met people who were, for all that is reasonable, I should have avoided, meaner than rabid snakes they were, not nice nohow! Chaz

  12. Well Charles, once again you made me laugh and then made me think… especially about the times I got myself tangled up in sticker bushes or up to my neck in running water. Papa God has been so good. Keep up the great work and let me know when your next book is about ready for print. Mark

  13. Mark, laughing and thinking, not necessarily in that order, are wonderful gifts from Papa God. The Infinite seems to have known what He was doing when he created us didn’t He? The caregiving book will be out soon, I will let you know. Blessings on you and yours my friend. Chaz


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here