Living in the Wide Open Spaces

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Michele Morin -Wild Open Spaces3

Life has a way of expanding to fill the available space.

Little League games used to occupy Saturday mornings with hours of sunshine (and mosquitoes) and with chatting on the bleachers with other mums. However, a quick glance around my house reveals our family has aged out of that particular American institution. We’ve moved on, but even so, Saturday mornings are still booked. These days, though, I’m not a spectator. I’m experiencing the great outdoors from the seat of a lawn mower.

If your goal in life is to live small and safe, beware the family business! With its shifting parameters and employees who double as offspring and then have the audacity to grow up and move on to their own lucrative pursuits, our mowing business is challenging all my known boundaries. Going from “I don’t do complicated machinery” to driving a zero-turn has been a harrowing experience, and one best accomplished in a wide-open field–for the safety of everyone!

There, with the startled butterflies rising along with the scent of fresh-cut grass, I’m gathered into the wildness of open sky alongside the coziness of trampled grasses where a deer bedded down the night before.

There, everything becomes an invitation:

See the wispy clouds, faithfully tending to their job of breaking up the stunning blue.

See the flock of hungry birds ransacking the honeysuckle bush.

See the honey bees, clearly all Threes on the Enneagram, hauling the makings for a flourishing life back to their far-away hive.

From my seat on the mower, inspiration is everywhere. I have a job to do: halt the advance of the Maine wilderness in this one location for this one season. This I can do.

What a relief.

And this is defining for me the essence of calling. I cannot do everything, and I have the sneaking suspicion this is news only to me.

I’m the only one carrying the checklist with my name at the top that shouts, “Failure!”

While I imagine a closed door and cramped quarters, God envisions and provides for a wide-open field. Discovering and following His calling puts my feet in the place of grace, and I’m not the first to notice. Missionary Paul in his letter to the Romans was nearly giddy in his announcement that the coast is clear and the field is boundless:

“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus.

And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us.

We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.”

–Romans 5:1,2 (MSG)

It’s as if God is saying to one and all, “Okay, I’ve mowed the perimeter, so you can see the boundaries. This is all open field now! Go for it!” With that in mind, we walk around every day with the power to open our hearts–or to slam them shut. We can make common ground a prerequisite for a common life with people who don’t see the world the way we see it, or we can take to the air like those bee scouts with their full saddle bags. Each one knows she is all that stands between her hive and starvation in an impossibly long and improbably imminent winter.

In Culture Care, artist Makoto Fujmura calls believers to fulfill a crucial role he describes as “border-stalkers”: those who live on the edges of various groups–sometimes in the space between–and carry news back to the tribe. Like bees that pollinate far and wide, those who assume this kind of cultural leadership ensure flourishing.

Christ, of course, was the ultimate Border-Stalker, creating in love, sidling up against all the borders with a light that would not be extinguished. When we narrow our categories against (and our eyes at) followers of Christ who refuse to reduce Him to a mere adjective, we diminish the mystery of Christ in our attempts to keep the Spirit inside our boundaries and away from the margins.

What grace to find in this season of constant upheaval, in which the lines between What-I-Do and What-I-Used-to-Do are shifting and still unclear. I can step through God’s open door and find the wide-open field of His calling, fragrant and welcoming and full of the sounds of life–evidence God has brought me here, and He knows the way forward.

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Michele Morin
I am wife to a patient husband, Mum to four young men and a daughter-in-love, and, now, Gram to one adorable grandboy. My days are spent homeschooling, reading piles of books, and, in the summer, tending our beautiful (but messy) garden and canning the vegetables. I love to teach the Bible, and am privileged to gather weekly around a table with the women of my church and to blog at Living Our Days about the grace I am receiving and the lessons from God’s Word that I am trusting.
Michele Morin

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Michele Morin
  • meema fields

    You probably did not also know that you are an accomplished marksman. Your words. God’s arrows. My heart. Bullseye.

    • Thanks for this affirmation, Meema, because I was truly writing from questions on this one: “Are there words for this season? Can God meet me here? Even HERE?”

      Change comes so quickly, that I’m caught off guard, but I’ve been reassured by God’s yes to my questions and the steadying hand of His presence. Even here.

      • meema fields

        Speaking from personal experience, having asked this question at the start of every rite of passage, now in the final stretch, I can attest that history is the confirmation that He is faithful. We think we can’t, we think we are done. He smiles and says, “Stop thinking and do.” Turns out even little is much.

        • Yes and amen.

          • Allie55

            Dear Michele, I love this! I’ve never mowed, and pray God doesn’t need a chuckle one day and force that experience upon me. Our 30+ son moved home 4 years ago as a result of economic downturns. Last year he had his footing back, but we had gotten spoiled by his availability, willingness, and skill in the kitchen. Who doesn’t want to come home from work to the aroma I found freshly baked bread. A year later, my husband and I are still trying to remember how to put a meal on the table. And God laughs.

          • There are so many ways in which we learn to be “flexible” because of our kids. Thanks, Allie, for reading and sharing some of your story here.

        • Oh, I love that.

  • I love how you describe this here, that even in the midst of upheaval and uncertainty God leads us into the spacious place of his calling.

    • Well, I’m learning, and in the process realizing that God is much bigger and more merciful than I have realized. That’s a gain that’s worth some upheaval.

  • Michele, this may be one of my favorites of yours yet! I always loved mowing. It was mindless and yet, my mind was filled with thoughts as I circled around. I love that He calls us to wide open places for they are the place that He has already prepared for us. Beautiful post!

    • This is a happy thing to read, Joanne, and I also find that mindless jobs are great seedbeds for creativity. Thanks for your ever-encouraging presence here and in so many other places as well!

  • Cheryl Smith

    Such wonderful, edifying thoughts, Michele! I have spent many an hour talking to God from the seat of a riding lawnmower. I also may or may not have been known to break out in song from the same position…I’m sure, much to the chagrin of anyone around! LOL! Thank you for another wonderful post!

    • Ha! And the sound of the mower keeps us from knowing how loudly we’re really singing, right?

      Thanks for reading, Cheryl!

  • Pam Ecrement

    Beautiful description of this season of your life and the grand discoveries of God’s presence in it. I was smiling throughout as I recall first entering the season you describe. I thought then (and still do), “How did I get here so quickly?” It seems only as we age can we fully appreciate how brief life truly is and as we look around and see all of the evidences of the Lord, we take time to actually note it. Blessings on your day! (PS I loved mowing out lawn on our lawn tractor even though it wasn’t a wonderful zero turn. In this season, we have someone else mow the lawn due to my husband’s back issues and the fact our married son needed the lawn tractor at his home in TN!)

    • One thought that keeps coming to me during this “How did I get here so quickly?” phase is that all four of my children were here in this home together all the time for only ten years. Somehow that does not seem like a very long time — especially in retrospect.
      (P.S. You are clearly more mechanically gifted than I am if you consider a zero turn to be “wonderful.”)

      • Pam Ecrement

        I couldn’t agree more about that reality of a short ten years! I will warn you that grandchildren (though not in our home) seem to grow up even more quickly!! Our oldest granddaughter graduated from college with a BSN in May and is starting a nurse residency program in a week and moving into her own condo in Sept.! (I am not more mechanically gifted, but think the advantage of not having to do more trimming might be a grand thing if the zero true mower can be learned.)

  • You’re braver than I am! I fear the day someone puts me on that heavy equipment with rotating blades. Whenever I think of that day possible coming, I hope I have discretionary funds to hire someone should mowing ever fall to me!! A silly fear, I know. But I’m encouraged by thoughts from the lawn mower- and pondering now what it means to be a border-stalker. Thank you!

    • I’m smiling because just a few days ago, I said something to my husband about the twirling blades of death just a few inches below my seat. So, I do have a very uneasy relationship with this new job description.
      And, Bethany, as a writer and a lover of people far and wide, YOU are uniquely positioned to be a border-stalker.
      Blessings to you!

  • Such an encouraging piece for the transitional times in our lives, Michele! I love what you shared here, friend. Have a blessed week!

    • June, I so appreciate your presence here. And I’m thankful that God is committed to working with us through these times when we don’t quite know the choreography.

  • pastordt

    This is so lovely, Michele, filled with hope and rich with insight. Thank you!!

    • Thanks, Diana. It’s always (always!) good to hear from you.

  • “I cannot do everything, and I have the sneaking suspicion this is news only to me.” (Insert crying-laughing emoji.) I feel like this is an “aha!” moment i have, like, every week. And my husband always just gives me a knowing nod. Beautiful words. Thank you.

    • Our husbands should talk. Somehow they see us apart from our unfinished and mangled checklists.
      Blessings to you, Beth. May we have many “aha” moments that confirm our sneaking suspicions.

  • I love the image of you on the lawnmower–getting a glimpse into more of your world and heart, Michele. I am also carrying with me that concept of border-stalkers. That is powerful for me, especially in my South African context right now. Thank you for that!

    • Yes! And you carry what you discover (like those far-ranging bee scouts!) back to us, and we are enriched.

  • Kristi Woods

    Wide open spaces – loved the view, Michele. I had to smile at your description of the family biz. Growing up in a small biz family, life certainly had its share of adventures. That’s for certain! Thanks for sharing w/us from your mower today. God does indeed know the way forward. #raralinkup

    • It’s fun that we share that bit of background, Kristi. And I’m thankful for the evidence God provides to reassure us that He really does know the way ahead. May we have eyes to see the truth of it.

  • You are such a poet, Michele. I love your closing thoughts. Those bring comfort, hope, and joy to me as I consider my own changing fields and vision!

    • I’m thinking that part of the “fragrant welcome” and evidence of God’s going before us into the big field is the sisterhood of others who are navigating the same space. I’m always blessed when I read about the way God is leading you, Betsy.

  • Helene Burns

    Your words, as always penetrate deep into my heart. You are ever inspiring as your share the language of your own heart to stir mine. Thank you! xx

    • And I appreciate the way you always draw the circle large and open here with welcome and warmth in every comment. So, I thank YOU!

  • Sarah Geringer

    Love this quote, Michele: “I can step through God’s open door and find the wide-open field of His calling, fragrant and welcoming and full of the sounds of life–evidence God has brought me here, and He knows the way forward.” I’m printing it out!

    • Honored to share words that inspire, Sarah!
      And blessed to be walking around that dewy field in company with you and so many friends as we experience the wonder of God’s welcome.

      • Sarah Geringer

        I’m thinking about making printables for my email subscribers. If you are willing, I will make your quote into a printable, and I’ll put your blog address on there for some promotion. Please let me know–I won’t proceed until you approve, and no hard feelings if you say no!

        • Words are meant to be shared.
          I’d be honored if you did that!

          • Sarah Geringer

            Great! I’ll let you know when I get around to it!

  • Michele, your words are so inspirational. Thank you for sharing your heart and reminding us of God’s magnificence! Your words remind me of Psalm 145:3-5 (MSG), “God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. There are no boundaries to his greatness.Generation after generation stands in awe of your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts.Your beauty and splendor have everyone talking; I compose songs on your wonders.”

    • Oh, my! Thank you for sharing that gorgeous psalm. I especially love the reminder that “there are no boundaries to His greatness.” Such good words to take into the day.

  • Tasha

    Your words are still sitting with me and they minister to me. This stopped me in my tracks: I’m the only one carrying the checklist with my name at the top that shouts, “Failure!” Thank you so much for writing this, Michele. It’s absolutely beautiful.

    • Tasha, my prayer for you right now is that the truth of “Not a Failure” is soaking right into your bones. Thanks for reading and for taking time to share the point that spoke to you.

  • Susan

    Michele, her words are always healing balm. xo

    • Susan, it’s always such a huge encouragement to hear from you.

  • So beautifully encouraging!

  • You paint the picture with your words so well, Michele. I take a deep breath and see the wide-open spaces of His best. He’s always calling us farther, isn’t He? Love that we never go alone. Beautifully written, friend. ((xoxo))

    • I just came home from mowing the field where this piece started to write itself, and I continue to marvel at the capacity of God’s heart, the freedom there is within God’s calling, and the love God pours out with wild abandon.

      Thanks, Brenda, for reading and encouraging!

  • Liz

    Your beautiful words bring freedom and light to my soul! Blessings, friend!

    • I’m so happy to hear that, Liz — and so glad that you found your way over here.
      Blessings to you as well!