The 4th of July in barn-land (meaning the small city where my barn resides) is always something quite intense. The most popular “holiday” by far for the area. The biggest tourist season. The little city gets very busy during that time.
It falls at the start of the monsoons. The sky is always on fire with electricity around that time. Riddled with lightning. The heat that had been building pressure finally lets loose and releases. Summer rain, cooling temperatures, magical evenings. The feeling somehow that something more should be happening.
The neighbors, no matter where you live, suddenly come alive with the sound of laughter. People over, visitors, family gatherings on the porch, barbecues. The rain finally touches down on the dry land and fire pits light up.
The normally quiet city, it stays up all night. The country bars enlivened with tourists and fun. Everyone reliving their youth. You can’t even get a hotel room here at this time of year.They are all booked.
And yet, life goes on.
I walked outside the evening of the 3rd, close to midnight because I couldn’t sleep. And, I was not disappointed. Found all of the above. The signs that the 4th of July weekend was here and in full swing.
In the time of summer parties, rodeo-ing galore, 4H fever, all the tourists buying up the cowboy hats and businesses booming – especially when you are in the “barn” business- I, somehow still, always find myself in a state of lonely-I honestly don’t know why. Perhaps like many do at Christmas/holiday time. I’m just not quite sure why that is. I found myself in a state of melancholy and …growth. A time for change. The time of the 4th always reminds me of childhood, of teen years, of longing, desire and expectation. Of insecurities. Of a time, in youth, when the world was laid open to all possibilities.
That same day, earlier, had found me alone in the barn, with the horses and a beer. Watching the clouds roll in and waiting for that monsoon wind to hit. When it did, I began my barn chores since the heat had subsided. Fed all the animals and covered all the hay with a tarp in the monsoon silence. The barn was quieted, softened from the sweltering and passion of the last couple of weeks. My daughter gone for the evening at a friend’s home . Visiting company here, now away on a day trip. Demands at bay.
I simply remembered gratitude. Gratitude. Gratitude. This is so beautiful. If all else falls away, there is simply this. A quiet barn, a storm brewing, a cool breeze so needed, a cold beer…and barn chores. Somehow it all felt okay. Life went on, and the 4th passed on a wave of quiet for me.
Without further ado, the barn is raised folks. The barn is raised.
April 1st the barn opened. Ya’ll know how a cowgirl rolls, a little slow. Not in life. But in contemplation, and in reporting. The days have been winding on and the work grinding away. I have remained a little bit quiet in the transformation. Inner and outer.
Here it is though. The transformation. The “barn”. When you need magic and grace, that you will find here. When you need a grounded, dirt-in-the-mouth, sweat-in-the-brow, down-home, barnraised experience, that you will find here. When you need to be pushed to the limits of who you are and who you want to be. When you just need a refuge, a shelter, a shady space in the barn to rest from life. You will find what it is that you need….here. At “barnraised”. We closed on the property, put in the sweat-work, manifested the barn known as “barnraised” (name inspired by blog of course). So exciting. So beautiful. Welcome to the barn. Welcome to my barn. Welcome to the barn that accepts you for who you are, where you’re at and what you’re ready to learn. Come on in. Take a seat and observe. Or take the reins and ride. Either way, welcome to the barn of the soul. You will be sure to learn something here and leave a little wiser and “barnraised”…. blessings.
Where to begin with the strange tale I am compelled to tell?
St. Francis is stalking me.
He must have a message for me anyways. And he is using some humor to get through to me. He is also a saint that knows how to get my attention. It’s not always so easy to get.
While not overtly religious, I have always had a fascination with St. Francis of Assisi. The man, the myth, the legend, the saint. I’ve always been drawn to his story and his path of compassion for others, especially animals. This has been true since I was a young girl. Interestingly, I went on the career path of helping others-mainly children and animals.
St. Francis and I have not always been close in the more recent years. However, last year- my daughter and I studied him in great depth while homeschooling a block on Saints and Heroes. My love for St. Francis was rekindled and, together, we really studied his path.
Fast forward about a year, I opened my therapeutic barn business on a wayward path that I felt deeply inside, yet never saw completely, but God laid out for me -story to come. I happened upon a beautiful statue of St. Francis in a garden shop one day that touched me and reminded me of our long-enduring relationship. I imagined St. Francis somewhere magical on the property “looking out for” those that needed it- the children, the animals, the vulnerable, the…..me. That statue, beautiful as it was, was just too expensive to justify purchasing. That was okay, it renewed my spark to honor his vision in my barn.
A few weeks or so ago, wouldn’t you know, a (slightly plainer version of that) St. Francis statue turned up in my life for $20. He came home with me. He was lovingly placed in my “meditation garden”. I felt the barn was complete and took it all in with gratitude.
Four days ago, my daughter had a friend over. They were having a snack at the dining table by the window that looked out over the garden. Her friend suddenly said “why do you have a headless statue out there?”. I moved over to the window to look. St. Francis had fallen over and his head was broken off. Oh shit….
I figured that I would get out there, recover his head and super glue it back on. Holy again. Not too worried. Went on with a couple of busy days.
Last night, I stumbled upon this inspirational quote that spoke to me in a “dark night” I found myself embroiled in. I was finding myself, now, no longer surprised by St. Francis’ stalking behavior. His messages speaking loudly now. I shared it on a personal social media site. I try to be selective there on what I share. But, you know -when St. Francis speaks to you. You shut up and be the instrument. Right?
So, today I went out to the garden to fix his head. My daughter was with me. The funny thing was that I also had a group of five other kids with me here for a “barn-day” camp. They wanted to come back into the garden to play with the puppy. While they were throwing a tennis ball around, I snuck over to find his head. My daughter followed. …..there was no head. I couldn’t find St. Francis’ head! I looked over at my daughter and said “where’s the head???” She said, “I don’t know, I can’t find it”. We looked, and searched, nowhere to be found. Yet there was nowhere it could’ve gone as it’s in a small fenced garden area. The head is GONE. For a moment I felt sad, or guilty, or something. Would I be struck by lightning? Then I looked back to my daughter and said “St. Francis’ head is missing!” and she started laughing so hard. She has been having a tough time lately, lots of rough emotional stuff for a 9 year old to deal with. My happy baby hasn’t been smiling so much these past few weeks. Her smile lit up the garden and she laughed, oh she laughed. And in that moment, I felt St. Francis’ presence, I felt his smile, I felt his grace, I felt his protection. And, I started laughing too….so hard. Then over my daughter’s shoulder I saw the group of kids laughing and chasing each other around and felt that this was what was meant to be here. Laughter, beauty, love, fun, healing and GRACE. By God, grace is here if nowhere else in the world. The barn will be a place of grace. Even when St. Francis’ head is broken, gone and missing. He wasn’t a statue made of stone, he was a saint made of love and grace. He blessed us in his brokenness, just as he did in his life. What I love most about St. Francis is that he was not perfect, he was rough and broken in his day. He knew he was human and full of mistakes. He also knew he was full of love, giving, kindness and grace. How could he give all of that if he had not had need for it in his life?
“I’ve cussed on a Sunday. I’ve cheated and I’ve lied. I’ve fallen down from grace a few too many times, but I find holy redemption…..can I get a hallelujah, can I get an amen…” -maren morris
I almost want to end there. Because the rest gets unbelievable-but…this evening after all the kids had gone and the evening fell quiet, I felt a spiritual pulling. I decided to visit our spiritual center tomorrow morning. Haven’t been going as regularly as I once did. I went online to see what the talk would be. When I went onto the website, a list of classes being offered popped up. Well, wouldn’t you know “Living the Prayer of St. Francis” is a class starting on July 9th. And, this is a spiritual center mind you, not a Catholic Church. St. Francis is stalking me. I will heed this
stalk call. I’m signing up for the class tomorrow.
And, I still hope to find your head St. Francis. Thank you for helping me find mine.
A quiet solstice day and night it has been. Last night, the near full moon turned red. Today was an all-time record heat day. Emotions and turbulence have run high. Kept it as calm and quiet this long, hot day as I could manage for my own well-being. Molded yellow beeswax suns to hang in the window. Baked sun cookies. Hosed the horses down with cold mist twice and added ice to their water in the middle of the day. Settled outside to watch the full moon rise silent with my little girl and her dog. Sudden dark clouds blew in. Covered the moon rise completely. We still admired the fire red spot of Mars and had some juice under the stars. I got her out of bed later when the clouds cleared enough to see the moon. It did not have the red it raged last night in my solitude. Sudden gusts of wind blew a chair over and then a sprinkle of rain that passed so quickly we would’ve never known had we not been standing under the wide open sky at that moment. In the midst of chaos, I tried to find the gratitude in that moment and gave her a kiss on the cheek as she went back to bed.