Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Born In A Barn

The old barns across this country could tell a thousand stories if square nails and round pegs had the power to speak; stories of progress and pride, disappointment and doubt, even of birth and death within the confines of the structure. Hundreds of hot July suns have crept across rough-hewn beams to light straw aglow and ruthless January winds have swept through cracks to blow the hair on livestock inside.

There are several old structures around our area that have become – not only members of certain families – but community monuments. Rob Allen’s big white barn on State Road 1 just north of the railroad tracks has seen countless cuttings of hay and straw move in and out of it’s interior. Kenny Stuart’s red barn on the bend at State Road 38 and Manning Road has stood as a timeless backdrop while progressive agriculture boomed with the expansion of grain legs over the years, reaching farther - and to quite larger – bins, topped with an American flag. And what about Bill Powell’s barn? The barn, where “GO TIGERS” once adorned the east side in white paint, has watched generations of Nettle Creek kids load and unload along the front entrance of the rural high school.

State to state and township by township, I bet you too can think of barns dotting the countryside which have gone from domineering focal points to quiet, background objects.

Taken in Montana

These old barns are special structures, built generations ago by local men of toil who understood the value of craftsmanship and took great pride in the work. They’ve withstood centuries of harsh weather, heavyweight livestock by the ton and progress abound.

Looking at today’s grand structures, it’s difficult to remember that they came from such a humble beginning, where it all began. What an incredible thought for those who have ever spent quiet hours inside an old barn. How remarkable that a structure comprised of so many basic raw materials, was the scene set for something so powerful: The birth of Jesus Christ.

I’m quite certain that the manger in which Jesus was born was not built of dozens of 14” x 14” beams and it didn’t have three levels for livestock, equipment, hay and straw. But I am certain that it was a humble place, like many of the old local barns are today, quiet with anticipation of new life. What an incredible thought that God chose such a modest location for such an extraordinary event. A peaceful, unassuming site which was bedded with straw became the birthplace of our Savior. A quiet place built of little, created to welcome so much. What a majestic manger it turned out to be.

Taken outside Meeteetse, Wyoming
We'll soon begin calving in our old barn. It’s generally a quiet season, checking every so often on young heifers who may have trouble their first time. Like many of you, we’ll spend hours in the dimly lit barn, seeing our breath and waiting for new life to be introduced to our little part of the world. Silent prayers will be said for healthy calves and mommas; we’ll say prayers of gratefulness that we were given the opportunity to raise the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), even in -10ยบ wind chill.
I was celebrating Christmas at a friend’s home a few weeks ago where I read a sign: 

Heaven is a little closer in the barn

- and I think I believe that. I also think that I’ll not drive by these old structures that now seem to sit in the background of our busy lives – perhaps zipping past a dozen on the way to work, on the way to basketball practice or on the drive home for Christmas – and not think of the particular miracle that was set in that simple scene; a wooden frame, made to welcome the world’s greatest Gift.

"Hurlbut Angus Farm" outside Raymond, South Dakota
Now RMH Livestock

I can’t count the times my Mom would yell 
at the three of us growing up, 
with hair in our faces or our rooms closely resembling a pig sty: 

“Were you born in a barn?!” 

I would always quietly reply in my mind, “No, but you raised us in one.”

My hope is that one day I'll ask the same pointed question to our children, 
“Were you born in a barn?!” 
and our kids will quietly reply in their mind

“No, but I know Someone who was.”

Merry Christmas from the Sankeys

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking the time to share week after week...year after year. I know it's not easy. Especially, because life has a funny way of showing up at the most inopportune times. You do...great art!