Day 323 | Friday, 5 February 2021
From the Church Mouse
Doug and I are both retired. I retired in June of 2007 when Doug became ill, and he retired from the active ministry at Christ First UMC on June 30, 2011. We had lived a simple life of service, leading churches, raising our kids and serving in the fire service in our villages and towns. When our first child was due to go to college, I went back to college, received my bachelors degree from Empire State College, my Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from St. Bonaventure University, and my post-masters and permanent certification from Bonas also. I did this partly to make sure we could pay for our kids’ education costs as they traveled that path.
When we retired and left Christ First for our 40 acres in Cattaraugus, we began to create a bucket list of things we wanted to do in this life. After careful planning, we felt that, now that we had less responsibility, we could realize some of our long-held dreams. Some of you saw me check one off my list in the fall of 2020. I had a ride on a Harley. Check with me: I have pictures.
In 2012, Doug got his first item on his bucket list: a trip to where his ancestors originated in Alsace. Due to Doug’s illness, our son David came with us (the kids all voted and explained to us that we couldn’t go alone). We flew to Paris and toured France, headed toward Mertzwiller in Alsace, the Knopf (the original name), homeland. Here’s where our story for today happened.
Steer Away from Trouble
So do not fear, for I am with you for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my right hand. Isaiah 41: 10 (NIV)
Before we reached Mertzwiller, we spent a couple of days in Bastogne. As we were looking for the Bois Jacques and the Band of Brothers foxholes, we went off track down a narrow farm lane. Out in the middle of nowhere we saw a man, waving his arms and running behind a giant bull (see below) which I recognized as a Charolais. We all bailed out of our car leaving all our doors open. I heard the man shouting, “Aidez moi”. Using my high school French, I know he was saying “help me”. Oh, great! I saw up ahead, to the left, a gate open to a fenced pasture.
I ran toward the bull, waving my arms and yelling, “partez” or go away. To my dismay, the bull went into the pasture!
The man smiled and said, “Merci” or thank you. I replied “c’est rein” or it’s nothing. Getting back in the car, I heard my son say, “You’re an idiot.” I said “la ferme” or shut your mouth….but he doesn’t speak French. Good thing.
Thinking things over, I remembered that Charolais are notoriously hard to handle. I should have thought of that first, but the man did say “help me”. I probably could have outrun the bull in those days, but my son was probably right. Good thing that God looks out for mad dogs and idiots.
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Rev. Douglas Knopp, Pastor Emeritus