Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Grace in the Barn

My little hands could hardly lift the heavy, long board that held the old barn doors closed. The old building seemed massive to a girl less than half grown. It was a place of adventure with beautiful web covered lines, strong animal smells, dark corners and light beams filled with dancing dust. I loved going into my grandparents' barn, it was a favorite childhood spot of mine. I never went there unless i asked permission first, always certain something in one of those dark corners could bring harm to me. So i always let Papa James know when i was venturing into his massive barn which became my "land far away" right there at home. He never told me i could not go to his barn, but he always warned me to be careful. He would tell me if he had a bull in the stall or if Molly, his great red mule, might be found in her favorite place (back left corner stall). For a little girl whose arms fit just perfectly around his overhauled waist, he knew, i needed to be mindful of things big and powerful that might be startled by a small, barefoot visitor.
I'd struggle to lift the board from the two wooden slats that held it in place. But then i'd pull the heavy barn doors wide to let the light travel through. I loved the smell, the feel, the mystery of the old barn. How many children for how many ages have played in old animal and hay scented barns? I felt a kinship with others who for centuries past had also loved the secretive corners and silent world of the dust covered, web-filled, common man's castle. One stall contained a feed-bin that always filled my mind with visions of a baby Savior wrapped in swaddling clothes. There was something oddly holy about that old smelly barn ---- it held kittens and corn --- hay and calves -- it was a haven when the storms outside became too strong -- it's doors drew the line between where the world could come and where it could not. One end of the long barn hallway was open to the small barnyard beyond. There may have been a door that could have closed it off, or maybe it was just a gate -- can't remember clearly there, i'll have to ask Mom about that one, she will know. But what matters most is the way that open end of the barn framed the light that poured in through it. Walking about on a sunny day in the middle of light and life, can never quite create the same vision as light and life viewed from a place of darkness. Darkness makes Light all the more beautiful. The colors in the pasture beyond the barndoor opening were vivid and enticing. They held a private promise of life and color --- "He makes me lie down in green pastures --- He restores my soul..." Even a little one can feel those words being whispered to their soul long before their ears can grasp them in church.
My grown up mind is revisiting that old barn these days. i ache in a sort of undefinable way for the smell of overhauls and mules, greasy tractor parts and dusty barn stalls. It was a classroom for me. I learned much there. Would anyone ever see grace in a barn? Is it possible to sense the approaching of Abba from inside the hall of a barn where animals rest?
Grace is sufficient ---- HIS Grace is sufficient for me --- it's said in the scriptures and engraved on my heart. Can we weep at the overflow of grace? Are we allowed to? When grace covers what grieves us most, the colors come more true like looking out of a dark barn hall at the gleaming sun-kissed green.
In The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning speaks of grace so well. He writes, "To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side, I learn who I am and what God's grace means. As Thomas Merton put it,'A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God. "The gospel of grace nullifies our adulation of televangelists, charismatic superstars, and local church heroes. It obliterates the two-class citizenship theory operative in many American churches. For grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours, not by right, but by sheer bounty of a gracious God. While there is much we may have earned--our degree, our salary, our home, and garden, and cool drink, and a good night's sleep -- all this is possible only because we have been given so much: life itself, eyes to see and hands to touch, a mind to shape ideas, and a heart to beat with love. We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer. Even our fidelity is a gift. 'If we but turn to God,' said St. Augustine, 'that itself is a gift of God'. My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it."

My deepest awareness of myself
is that i am deeply loved by Jesus Christ 
and i have done nothing 
to earn it or deserve it.

The old barn was my little girl picture of grace.

It was there always --- no matter where i went during my childhood days -- the old barn was unchanged and unmoved. It didn't cradle me inside its safe walls because of who i was --- it held strong and wrapped itself around me because of what it was and because of where i had chosen to place myself.
Oh my beautiful Savior, it's all about who HE is and where i choose to place myself.

I stepped inside that old grace barn --- and all the world around me was either dismissed or it just looked different.
God's grace does not come because of anything we may or may not do or say. We are unalterably unworthy. God's grace comes on us because of who and what He is --- no lie from hell can alter the fact of the presence of Abba's grace upon us.

I'm huddled inside the hall of the barn these days.
Wondering at the age old strength of what surrounds me.
I've questioned if i've overstayed my welcome -- will the cradling walls of grace grow weary of my endless need for them?
In my world i'm feeling the powerful winds tear mountains, shattering rocks; ground quaking underfoot and flames turning to ashes what seemed solid and mine. I tremble even as i type --- as surely Elijah did. But as i reach for His Robes again and again and again ---- i peer out of the safe, grace-filled barn hall and listen for the sure gentle whisper of the One called
 El Roi, He is the God who sees me

And even if i'm huddled low, He wafts His robes around me and covers me with His mercy filled grace.

Does He allow me to tremble at the mightiness of it all?
Ahhhhh ---- His grace is sufficient --- even when nothing about me is...

1 Kings 19:11-13 11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” ...

as my El Roi whispers to me, "what are you doing here donna?" my answer comes through tears -- i'm kneeling Lord, low, trembling, but tasting your grace.

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe

1 comment:

  1. it appears you found your Center this week, and the encouragement you were seeking. continuing to bring you to the Throne.