About Pr. Berner

About Pr. B. —

I grew up on the Great Plains. My family lived in the fifth largest metropolitan area in South Dakota – Watertown, with a population of 14,007. I know because I rode my bike to the edge of town every spring to check out the “Welcome” sign, and every year the population was the same – 14,007 (it is now the fourth largest “city” in the state). That is where The Way began for me.

I was connected to the earth from my earliest days. We lived in “town”, but we had a huge garden – or was it a small farm? We had a tractor and a plow to turn the soil over every spring. Every year my father ordered 1,000 tomato plants and 3,000 cabbage plants from Georgia because we had a short growing season. We grew carrots, onions, cucumbers, squash, corn, beans, peas, beets, and potatoes. The entire garden was surrounded by hundreds of peonies.

I enjoyed planting the corn and potatoes, because I did that with my father. He dug the hole and I threw in a few kernels of corn or some old smelly potatoes cut up with “eyes” sticking out. I did not enjoy weeding the garden, and many times the weeds won out toward the end of the summer – but the harvest was always delicious. I never tasted sweet corn that was more than 15 minutes old. My father picked the corn, I husked the corn, and my mother cooked the corn.

When my father and I traveled through the countryside to go seining for minnows, to go fishing or hunting, my father quizzed me on what crop was growing in each field we passed. He would point to the right or left and I would say: corn, wheat, barley, flax, soy beans, rye or barley. The most difficult to distinguish were wheat and oats – they look so much alike. My favorite crop was flax (linen is made from flax, as is the fine paper used for Bibles), because when it was in bloom it looked like a blue sea.

There is no record in the Bible of Jesus gardening, but from his parables it is obvious that his father taught him about gardening – mustard, grapes, mint, wheat, rue, barley, olives, and lilies. I learned the parables from Sunday School teachers, pastors, and professors, but I came to understand them through what my father taught me in the garden.