We had not been to White Oak Lake in a long time, so we drove there Sunday afternoon to see how it had changed. It looked somewhat improved with more entertainment opportunities: motorboat, paddleboat, kayak and canoe rentals, fishing docks and recreation areas for children. As we eased around the vacant camping area, I caught a glimpse of a thin fellow sitting in a swing overlooking the lower lake. He turned his head as we drove by and lo and behold, it was the wise old man.
I rolled down the window and caught a strong blast of the blustery day. “Hello, sir,” I shouted, “are you having a good day?”
“Dan, how did you and Mrs. Ford know I was here?”
“Seems like you are everywhere,” I replied, as I parked the car and walked over to join him on the swing. Jacque greeted him and then walked on down to the visitor’s center and gift shop.
“Are you staying here at White Oak?” I asked.
“No, son, I caught a ride here from Camden just to enjoy this unseasonably warm January day. I do wish the wind would die down. I am staying in the storage area across from that catfish place in Camden for a week or two.”
“How are you going to get back over there?”
“Okay, Dan, thanks, I will ride with y’all.” (I was not going that way, but we do like the catfish place over there and that would be a good place for lupper—combination of lunch and supper. We had had brunch in Arkadelphia.).
“Dan,” the wise old man said meditatively, “I have been thinking about brothers. I lost a brother in the war and I know you lost your brother who was a B-47 pilot. I have pondered brothers from Cain and Abel, to Jacob and Esau, to Moses and Aaron to Peter and Andrew. And I have been thinking about those brothers in the Prodigal Son. The reason the older brother who stayed behind could not enter into the joy of his brother’s return was because he was judgmental. We should not judge people at all, especially if we have insufficient knowledge of their motivations. Never ascribe motives to people, Dan.”
“Wow, sir, that’s heavy stuff. I know the Bible says we should not judge because we get the kind of judgment we give out. But I did not know ascribing motives was a form of being judgmental. I am always trying to figure out what people’s motives are.”
“Well, quit doing that, Dan.”
“Sir, I have to run to the restroom. I think I will drive down to the visitor’s center and use the facilities, pick up my wife and come back up here to pick you up.”
“Thank you, son, and I do not mean to judge you.”
“Oh, no, I did not take it that way at all.”
When we got back up to the swing, he was gone. We could not find him anywhere. We went on the Camden, though, for lupper.