When are the Glory Days? Lessons Learned from Heartland, Part One

When are the Glory Days?  Lessons Learned from Heartland

Part One

Editors Note:  This is part one of a three part series by Sheree Phillips.  Make sure you tune in for parts two and three to see some really old pictures and hear some really old stories. 

Heartland is the multi-season saga about a Canadian family led by grandfather Jack Bartlett.  My kind husband has been watching this series with me for quite some time as I live vicariously through Amy Fleming's life as a horse whisperer who spends her days on the ranch rehabilitating distressed horses and riding through fields with her hair flowing out of her cowgirl hat.  I’ve said more than once to Benny, “This is what I want in heaven! No mansion, just a small house on a lot of acres with horses and cows and dogs and an outdoor cat and a kitchen where I can cook for lots of people! Oh, and long, flowy hair!” 

Heartland picture

A recent episode was all about Jack finally getting inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame (who knew Canada even had cowboys?).  He had waited for years for this moment and was one proud cowboy.  With family and close friends present, he stood up to accept his bucking bronco trophy.  With misty eyes Jack talked about how he used to think a lot about the “glory days” when he was on the rodeo circuit winning belt buckles and gaining a reputation as the best at all things cowboy.  I’ll admit it, my eyes were teary, too. I had been waiting for this moment for the aging, thick-mustached Grandpa, but wasn't prepared for his acceptance speech.

Jack said something that surprised Benny and me.  As he made eye contact with his wife, daughters, granddaughters and in-laws, he said, “I appreciate this honor very much, but I’ve decided these are the glory days.”

One of the things we love about this series is Jack’s humble patriarchy.  He babysits his granddaughter and has tea at the small table in her girly room.  He rescues animals and repairs fences. He helped build out a space over the barn when Amy got married.  He’s always “there” for his family and makes them a priority, including even his former enemy and son-in-law, who is slowly becoming a dear friend. And he cried when his horse of many years died.

But these are his glory days???  Jack spent decades riding broncs, expertly wrestling steers and winning barrel races.  He collected a bunch of buckles and trophies. He was the consummate cowboy and everyone on the circuit knew and admired him.  Jack was widely recognized, admired by all and envied by peers. How could he say his life of applauding crowds being replaced with creaky joints, a growing family asking him to drop everything (again) to help them get out of their latest mess, and lazy days of playing house with little Katie were his new glory days?

Pause and consider your glory days.  Were they the high school years of playing sports with friends, and all the memories of last-second scores or moves to the basket?  Years when you had a group of close friends you did life and made memories with nearly every weekend? College days that teemed with experiences and friendships you still cherish in the midst of a full life of now “adulting”?  That time you finally got the promotion at work and had the time of your life making lots of money? Was it when you finally met your future spouse and life was full of romance and happy times? Or months spent carrying your first baby then falling in love with a tiny person who is growing tall before your eyes?

Or maybe the glory days for you -- like me -- involved warm and special times when friendships were at their peak and you’re wondering if you’ll ever have the depth of connection, closeness (and the corresponding growth) you had “back then.” 

Think about that as you anticipate reading the rest of my story.  What if God wants to change the way we, like Jack, think about the past and the present?  Could the “glory days” be not just a thing of the past?

And just maybe they’re actually a present reality you just don’t see yet.