It’s all about that Little Mustard Seed

By Vivian Lawson Hogue

Was it “faith” or “trust” that made you keep trying to ride that bike or use those skates? Which one was it that let you sleep at night because mom, dad, or another older person was there with you? The two words are as entwined as a plastic grocery bag tied with two knots. It takes both to ensure that neither will fail. Unless, of course, a hole develops.

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) Trust is reliance and confidence in someone or something. One senses faith and trust about people or things when we are young although we do not know the terms to apply to them. You may lose faith in a friend if it is warranted. You learn to not trap a bee in a hollyhock bloom with your bare hand.

yellow mustard seeds in the wooden scoop, isolated on white

In looking at our childhoods growing up through the 1960s, there could be long lists of things in which we had faith and trust. We took them for granted then, but we recognize them more easily now. Our current times put a strain on the growth of our little mustard seeds. (Matthew 13:31-32)

Most of us had assurance that one or both parents would be home, night or day. I knew when I arrived home after school, I could have a peanut butter sandwich. No soft drinks, no candy. Supper did not come from boxes and plastic containers and certainly not by delivery. Instead, simple, healthy foods were cooked and served. No GMOs, preservatives or dyes!

With no air conditioning but with open windows, we could smell other neighborhood meals cooking, and with no noisy traffic, we could hear families chatting and ice being stirred in glasses. Everyone was at the table, excused only after the meal was over. During summers, our dining table was moved to a lattice-covered, screened-in porch completely entwined with honeysuckle. A nearby cot provided breezy, aromatic and peaceful naps.

Parents also trusted that the school lunches, which were spearheaded by local mothers after World War II, would be healthy, adequate, hot, and affordable. I recall having my first blueberries in a lunch-lady-made cobbler and I broke out in itches and welts within the hour. But it was worth it.

We always knew we would have homemade clothing, even underwear. However, I had several nice homemade sundresses and hand-knitted sweaters and caps.

We counted on churches and schools to be venues for worship and many social activities. Perhaps our greatest miscalculation of faith was believing that nothing could negatively affect our churches. Not in this country. No violence, no persecution, no falling away could ever happen.

Schools taught the “need-to-know-no-matter-how-long-it-takes” subjects of math, spelling, cursive writing, and reading, followed by American history, social studies, higher math, literature, Latin, and Spanish. Parents trusted the curriculum and the qualifications, knowledge, and behavior of the instructors. No cessation of classes for any reason except for ice and snow. Students swore that if the superintendent didn’t fall on his backside when he tested his icy driveway, we would have school. Buses only ran rural routes. Much of Old Conway was within walking distance of schools, so many students walked or biked unafraid and backpack-less.

Adult employment was high in the factories. Many teenagers worked in agriculture, mowed yards, delivered papers, or worked in fast foods or downtown stores. Babysitters earned 50¢ an hour. All assumed they could trust longstanding businesses to remain, never imagining someday driving to Little Rock to work, then back for supper and bedtime.

We five children never received allowances so I didn’t learn to count money until I started to make some. We knew we would otherwise be cared for. A recent bit of online humor asked, “How much allowance did you get as a teenager?” The answer was, “My ‘allowance’ was being ‘allowed to live there.’”

Ron Spradlin, a long-time Conway resident, says, “I was allowed to chop and saw wood in the winter and plow with the horses and a mule from age of 7, as well as hoe and pick cotton, milk the cows, and feed the hogs. Sometimes I worked for someone else at $4 a day, the earnings of which I was allowed to purchase my school clothes. We were poor, but life was so good. I don’t want to go back there again and grow, but in times of contemplation, my heart thinks so.”

Old Conway neighbors lived “within hollerin’ distance,” and most were long-timers or native residents. Even those in apartment buildings and several duplexes rented for multiple years. One duplex neighbor remained in her small abode for 65 years. This closeness and familiarity promoted caring for each other in friendship or times of need and required faith and trust in each other.

Faith and trust are confidence-generating words that are God-gifts and need to be exercised daily. And both are especially needed nowadays, as our double-knotted plastic grocery bags seem to be developing holes.

Vivian Lawson Hogue
Latest posts by Vivian Lawson Hogue (see all)