The Barn at the Homestead

The Barn at the Homestead

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Sanctuary of the Barn

And there was evening and there was morning...

As a priest in an Episcopal Church, it is the liturgy that draws me deeper and deeper into the community and also into the love of God.  But in recent days, I have discovered the sanctuary of our barn.  There is almost a liturgical feel to our rhythm of life on our little homestead that we call Almost Paradise.  Our goats need tender loving care in the evening and in the morning.  

Each morning as I head to the barn to feed and water the goats, there is a feel of prayer.  Daily Morning Prayer and daily Evening Prayer were once standards of Anglican/Episcopal churches.  The church I serve has spoken Morning Prayer Monday through Friday but unfortunately, it is not well attended. Yet the sanctuary of the barn calls daily--in the evening and in the morning.  My goats are my community, and their song is often a "Maaaaa", but a song none the less--such a joyful noise.  What I love about this rhythm is that it is a reminder to pray . . . for God's creation, for world hunger, for those who are ill.  Prayers of thanksgiving, too; prayer of thanksgiving for this special barn and these special companions, for the special man with whom I share my life and for the little hens who provide us with daily eggs. 

And then there is the weekly cleaning of the barn--what I often wish I could do in my vocation as a priest.  I scoop up the waste of the barn and carry it to the compost pile.  There it is made into something special to make our garden grow.

The sanctuary of the barn provides a place for reflection, for laughter (goats can be so funny!), for love and comfort.  And it fits the rhythm of my day, in the evening and in the morning.  Thanks be to God.

Monday, August 3, 2015


     I like the way that libraries work; books are grouped by categories.  Fiction is listed by author, non fiction by subject matter.  It helps to keep things organized.
     The table of contents and the indices in cook books are invaluable tools; they allow the cook to quickly find recipes that are listed in categories.  Makes dinner preparation easy.

     Collections are categorized, too. For instance, I collect goat figurines and "hands".  I like to keep similar items together.  When one shops on E-bay, it is easy to find things in their particular category.  
     Categories help to keep things organized.
     When it comes to people, however, I find categories aren't always helpful.  We tend to want to place people in categories according to our assumptions.  It seems easy to "judge" others if we put them in categories: blacks, gays, hispanic, short people, and so on.  In categories, it seems easy for hate to enter in.
     But meeting people as individuals is something all together different.  If there is one thing that sticks out for me about Jesus, it is relationships!  God, who looks upon the heart, in Jesus seeks out the individual.  It's a good model for us.  To seek out the individual. 
     I am grateful for the many people in my life from many different walks of life.  When I see with my "Jesus eyes" I no longer view them in categories--a place where hate seeps in --but see them as the wonderfully and uniquely made person they are becoming.  I am becoming "me", too.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Rethinking everything . . .

     It's been another "staycation"--a week away from my vocation as an associate rector in a large parish.  It's been a week living in the comfort of our little homestead, the one we are calling "Almost Paradise."  It's the place that we share with our three goats and two hens and our gardening efforts.  The garden has been less than stellar this year; we are grateful for the Farmer's Markets in our area!
     We've started a small scale aquaponics this week; a fish named Moby and some micro greens.  Our dream is to do it on a larger scale one day, but for now the small tank with a tiny fish has us learning. And our excitement mounts!
     "Staycations" are an invitation.  An invitation to relax, refresh and to rethink things.  Recently our daughter has moved home; she's an adult now and has brought her little doggie--our granddog!  Pack rat would be a good nickname; alas, she is a material girl.  And our small little place isn't big enough for all of the stuff!
     So . . . it's got me rethinking everything.  Time to pull out Doris Janzen Longacre's book Less is More again!  I'm not sure I can live as a minimalist--I do am a material girl!  But can I do with less? The challenge really is WHY do I want to do with less.  Perhaps it is so that I can actually have more to give.  To make room for those lasting things, like good friends and family. 
     In these days of rethinking my life, I am centered on the church--not just my parish, but Church (with the capital C).  I wondering if I am following Jesus; am I counted among his disciples?  Again today I've read of another potential split on a demonation (makes the heart sad).  I think Jesus wanted us to be one....
  So, I'll continue to rethink everything.  Grateful that this homesteading life is leading me to new relationships and new awareness of God's creation.  To rethink is to discern.  Thomas Merton said it best in his prayer:
O Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going,
I do not see the road ahead of me,
I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,
And that fact that I think
I am following Your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe
That the desire to please You
Does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire
In all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything
Apart from that desire to please You.
And I know that if I do this
You will lead me by the right road,
Though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust You always
Though I may seem to be lost
And in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
For You are ever with me,
And You will never leave me
To make my journey alone.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


     I just came in from cleaning the barn after several weeks of really cold, snowy/icy weather in Mississippi!  The goats seemed to do very well; much easier on them than me! I chuckled when I realized the word with which I chose to travel this year is enough.  Enough winter already! The goats seemed grateful for a better smelling barn and much cleaner and fresher hay. And I feel much better for the fresh air and sunshine.  
      Cleaning the barn had me reflecting; the season of Lent is much like mucking out the barn.  It's time to clean out the clutter from our interior lives to make room for the fresh and new.  A priest friend of mine once told me that he gave up boiled okra and watermelon rind pickles each year for Lent.  He said it with a smile and a wink, I might add. He said that Lent really was about so much more--more about taking stock of our lives.  I believe it's the time for checking out how we are loving God and how we are loving our neighbor.  Like cleaning the barn, I have some mucking out to do in my own interior.
     This Lent has found me spending time with the Penitential Psalms; reading them, meditating on them, studying them and listening to music that's been composed in various genres. We don't spend much time talking about sin anymore; but I am reminded once again by cleaning out the barn, sin exists, and it is only by God's grace that I'm forgiven.  And loved.
     So, enough of winter! Spring is coming.  And Lent is the time that we prepare for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! Blessed be!