Wide Open Spaces

Friday, March 13th, late in the afternoon, Hubs received word from work he was to work from home, effective immediately, for an indeterminable timeline.

Businesses closed. Churches went internet-service-only. A stay-at-home order was issued, and here we were, in our almost-rural sanctuary, buttoned-down for the long-haul.

Before that, at the start of the new year, I felt one of those internal directives from the Lord – the voice of the Holy Spirit which isn’t so much an audible voice, but one that speaks more clearly. “This is a year to prepare.”

I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t know what we were to prepare for. I did what seemed sensible at the time, purchasing ingredients to stock the pantry, making sure we had household supplies on hand, even ensuring Hubs had “enough” ammunition to harvest the deer, pheasants, or rabbits nearby should anything come to that.

I didn’t know my time for preparation would be put to use so suddenly.

Gratitude was the overwhelming initial response. Hubs still had his job and appeared to be in no danger of losing it. Thank you, Lord.

I offered to be the first my client would cut should it come to that. It hasn’t, thank you, Lord.

We had shelter in our home and on our little parcel of land, and not in an apartment (like we had found ourselves stuck in for 30 months just a few years ago). Thank. You. LORD!

We had seeds to start our garden in the springtime. We had home-canned goods. I know how to cook, bake, and even how to eviscerate a chicken, should the need arise. Thank you, Lord.

We have chickens! And eggs. Right in our backyard. Thank you, Lord.

The gratitude was abundant because there was no denying our blessings were as numerable as the uncertainties we found ourselves in.

…and yet…

Back when we lived in the apartment, which seems a lifetime ago already, the stirring within me to get out, spread my wings, and get my hands dirty homesteading was so intense I would be in tears over it often.

When the Lord led us to Big House on a Little Prairie, it wasn’t the land we had in mind, but we were grateful for it. A big garden, a chicken coop, and fruit trees were more than we had at any other time in our adult married life, and we were smitten.

And oh, how thankful we are for this home, this plot, those chokecherry trees.

One thing I was not expecting, but a pandemic revealed, was how much space I crave in life.

That was realized when, one by one, activities and commitments were wiped clear from our calendar.

Space. The large, empty squares in my planner held a strange freedom I had not experienced before. A “wide open spaces” I would never have imagined or thought so purposeful.

The wide-open spaces, page after page, allowed for growth and expression I didn’t realize I needed.

Then there was a familiar stirring again.

My gratitude for our garden and our chickens could not quell the rising desire for a different kind of wide, open space.

The more I homestead, the more I long to learn and do. It’s one thing to make salsa, another to can it, another still to grow your own ingredients and have fresh, garden-grown salsa in the middle of a frigid winter.

It’s one thing to know how to cook a chicken. It’s quite another to raise your own, butcher it, and taste the difference home-grown care and attention make in a meal.

But woman cannot live on salsa and chicken alone…

I have plans, of course. Home-raised bacon. Fresh milk (turned to cheese or yogurt or butter or…). Wool I card and spin into yarn, and knit together in a warm winter sweater.

Not simply a large garden, but a few small crops. Sorghum, either for us or the animals. Einkorn. Imagine, us growing our own popcorn!

While we can have laying hens here, we don’t have space or setup for meat birds. Certainly not for pigs, sheep, or milking cows.

We’ve scaled back our garden growing because we’ve run out of property nooks and crannies where we can plant a stray plant or two.

Already, we’ve got rhubarb, garlic, onions, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, collards, brussels sprouts, peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, celery, ground cherries, raspberries, blackberries, green beans, black beans, red beans, peas, pumpkins, cucumbers, winter squash, potatoes, and even a trial row of pak choy.

I may not have room for zucchini or watermelon this year, and I know I don’t have room for other things I’d like to grow that I hope to be able to glean from a country neighbor or two.

So the stirring rumbles within.

I wonder, truly, if when the Lord told me to prepare this year, part of it was for a shift to wide-open spaces? First He cleared my calendar, but what if next he clears new pasture?

I have my dreams. I have my prayers well-rehearsed in petitioning specific next steps.

In the meantime, however, while I wait for an answer, I’m creating more wide-open spaces. Room by room, we’ve gone through our belongings, thinning out what we no longer have use for, paring down what we possess.

It’s cathartic and therapeutic to reduce the number of belongings we have, taking up space in our home. The more we organize and sort out, the freer still we feel.

And I guess that’s the unexpected blessing in all of this.

Freedom comes in clearing out. The calendar, the cupboards, the surroundings… for me, anyway, peace has nestled itself in my soul as a direct result of wide-open spaces.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.