Afternoon Coffee on the Land

By Paul Knudtson

A key aspect to the Old Testament story of Israel concerns the land that God gives to his people.  The story about the land begins with God’s promise to Abraham:

  • Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)
  • Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” (Genesis 12:7)
  • 14The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. . . . 17Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” (Genesis 13:14-15, 17)

The promise of land was repeated to Abraham’s son, Isaac.

  • 2The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; settle in the land that I shall show you. 3Reside in this land as an alien, and I will be with you, and will bless you; for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will fulfill the oath that I swore to your father Abraham.” (Genesis 26:2-3)

There are descriptions of this promised land in scripture. It is “the land flowing with milk and honey.” (Deuteronomy 31:20).

Psalm 37

  • 3Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
  • 9For the wicked shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.
  • 11But the meek shall inherit the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
  • 22for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land,
  • 29The righteous shall inherit the land, and live in it forever.
  • 34Wait for the LORD, and keep to his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on the destruction of the wicked.

I will remain forever happy that I was born into a family that lived in the country. My father was a farmer and lived his entire life in the country. In fact, he only ever lived in two houses—in the house of his mother and father, and in the house that he built for my mother when he was married. That house, the house that I grew up in, is just a mile from the farm site of dad’s childhood home.

 Mealtimes on the farm were regular and at set times. Breakfast took place before we had to go to wait at the gate for the school bus, shortly after 8:30 a.m., the noon meal was at 12:30, and supper was around 6 p.m.  Then there was a coffee break—called “lunch”—around 4:00 p.m. Normally dad came into the house for this coffee break, but there were certain times when dad was working in the field with a tractor—cultivating perhaps—when afternoon lunch could then be brought to him in the field.

I recall one such occasion when we rode with mom in the 1958 turquoise and white, standard transmission Ford Custom, east through the yard and then north to the field where dad was working. Mom didn’t have her driver’s license at this time, so she would usually only drive in the field, or perhaps only a very short distance on the road if the field was not far from home. In the late 60s she took driver’s training when Arthur was in high school in Stettler. I was proud of mom for getting her license, though she never really did much driving. She would perhaps drive over to visit one of her sisters or go to a ladies’ meeting at church. I remember thinking after dad died that it would have been nice for mom to be able to drive places, but I think by that time she had lost some of her confidence, especially when it came to driving in Camrose.

On this particular day, Mom had packed a lunch into a dishpan and covered it with a tea cloth. Lunch consisted of coffee in a thermos for dad and mom—along with ceramic cups, and koolaid with glasses for the kids. Then there would be some sandwiches and probably some cake—chocolate cake with icing and chopped up pieces of walnut. Dad liked walnuts in his cake. The sandwiches were simple—something like butter and jam on pieces of homemade bread. We always had homemade bread or buns that she kept in the bottom drawer in the kitchen.

When we got to the end of the field to the North-East of the farm yard, we sat and waited in the car until dad got around to that place with the Co-op tractor.  He stopped the tractor, turned off the engine, and we drove next to him in the car. Dad was dusty from driving the tractor (which didn’t have a cab) and so he would take off his jacket and swing it against his clothes to knock off as much dust from himself as possible before sitting down for lunch. Dad would put his jacket on the ground beside a rear tire of the tractor and lean against the wheel as he ate his lunch. We sat around him—I don’t remember sitting on anything, so we likely just sat on the unworked ground beside dad.  I remember liking the smell of the tractor as we sat there.

It was a nice family moment—all sitting there in the quiet of the field as we enjoyed the lunch that mom had made and each other’s company. We were always amazed by the way in which dad could drink hot coffee. He liked his coffee to be very hot and could somehow drink it without burning his mouth or throat. He joked that he had hair in his throat.

24-Spring 77

Years later, when the grandchildren came along, the afternoon coffee tradition continued.  Grandma had special cups for birthdays or tea parties.  When she passed away, our children were given the opportunity to choose from the house that held special memories for them.  Our oldest daughter pulled a tiny yellow mug from the china cabinet.  “Grandma and I would have a special time together.  She would put a drop of coffee in my milk.  It is a good memory.”


“Who, then, is the man that fears the lord?  He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.  He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land.”  Ps. 25 12-13

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Paul was a preacher and teacher until he retired in 2015. He continues to write and listen to what God is saying to him in the ordinary and extraordinary things of life. Elaine was a public school teacher and administrator until she retired in 2018. She is using her retirement to reflect on God's work in her life and to share insights with her family and friends.

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