Living in the Wide Open Spaces


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.