It's been an incredibly busy few months. We are at work combining two households, constantly marveling at how we have each accumulated this much stuff. Unbelievable. Work continues to be at least full-time making fish replicas for the taxidermy industry. And of course, owning land (and the animals and plants that go with it) takes up any shred of spare time we might have.
This morning I took a few minutes to look through an old photo album of the family and home where I grew up. Precious memories. My parents have been gone twenty-nine years (Mom) and twenty-three years (Dad). So it's a joy to look at some pictures that bring them back vividly in my memory.
It strikes me this morning that my life has in many ways come full circle. I grew up deeply attached to a specific piece of land, the farm my great-grandfather bought in 1892. Starting when I was 17, I wandered for school and career. The land and all that went with it stayed like bedrock in my heart, but I became a wanderer. Every place I went I tried to re-forge that connection with the land. That lasted up until two years ago.
Now my life, as I said, has come in many ways full circle. I am again rooted on land. This time it's the forty acres that I bought almost three years ago. I have been tending this land much as my father tended (and wrestled with) the land where I grew up. I'm struggling with tractors that don't want to work right, fighting against weeds, praying for rain, and loving the extremes of living close to the weather in Minnesota. I strive to leave it better than I found it. I bask in the joys of growing things. Daily I tend a couple of horses, worry about fences, strive to remember whether I closed that gate. I'm thinking about whether I have enough hay to get through the coming winter. Even in July, winter casts a long shadow here. Deer and pheasants are welcome company on this place, and I think about how to make it better for them as well.
There was a simplicity to my growing up years that I am rediscovering. It's far more than just nostalgia for childhood. It includes limiting technology, avoiding debt, making do with what we have, and appreciating the good gifts and relationships we've been given.
It is rooted in a close relationship with land, and a deep gratitude to the God who created it and who loves it even more than I do. I find myself thinking about Romans 8 so often, where Paul writes that all creation groans in bondage waiting for the sons and daughters of God to be revealed. This tending of creation is part of a sacred calling for those of us who know Jesus Christ. And even as this land was broken and abused and now is growing healthy again, I see daily that my own brokenness is being redeemed.
My sin (oh, the bliss of this glorious thought)
My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
One of the names I have used in my own mind for this land at times is "redemption acres." I'm not ready to put it up on a sign, and there are other names as well, but this place is a place of redemption. What was discarded and valueless (it was on the market for years before I bought it and the listing finally just ran out because no one wanted this place) is now becoming more and more beautiful.
It is a parable of sorts.
And like so many parables, I find myself in it.