Epithalamion–The Pasture Gate Opens

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For Jim and Breanna on their wedding day

Today is the day the pasture gate opens
after a long winter; you are let out on grass
to a world vast and green and lush
beyond your wildest imaginings.

You run leaping and bounding,
hair flying in the wind, heels kicked up
in the freedom to form together
a binding trust of covenant love.

You share with us your rich feast today,
as grace grows like grass
that stretches to eternity yet bound safely
within the fence rows of your vows.

When rains come, as hard times always do,
and this spring day feels far removed,
when covered in the mud or frost or drought of life,
know your promises were made to withstand any storm.

Even though leaning and breaking, as fences tend to do,
they remind you to whom you belong and where home is,
anchoring you if you lose your way,
pointing you back to the gate you once entered.

Once there you will remember the gift of today:
a community of faith and our God blessed
this opened gate, these fences, and most of all your love
as you feast with joy on the richness of His spring pasture.

It’s a Jungle Out There

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We’re drowning in grass. Only 6 weeks ago, it lay gray, still frost-laden and dead, but now, in a burst of green enthusiasm and fueled by a short cluster of warm days and nights of heavy rain, it is knee high most places, and waist high in others. If I listen hard enough, I swear I can hear it growing, just like the squeaks that corn makes as it grows. It is not just a carpet, it is a jungle now and just as I did as a child, it is pure pleasure to sit down in the middle of it, tamping down a nest of sorts, with the grassy walls and a blue sky ceiling.

Instead of snow drifts, we have grass drifts and we trail blaze through the grass in the same way we did the snow in January, leaving our foot prints behind.

The Haflingers are being eased out into this bounty a few hours each day, a slow transition from last year’s bailed grass crop which now seems quite tasteless in comparison. All that can lure the horses back to the barn after a little grazing time is the shake of the grain bucket–the grass is an incredible powerful magnet.

I understand the pull the Haflingers feel. They are centuries-bred on forage sparse mountain pasture and what they consumed during the growing season would supply the fat needed for the long winters. Some inner drive tells them “eat now! eat fast! store up!” and they are most efficient eating machines. Trouble is, in this part of the world, where forage is plentiful and high in protein this time of year, they’ll eat themselves sick if given the opportunity. Their internal survival drive paradoxically could destroy them and destroy the pasture needed to sustain them year round.

We humans need that same control over our desire to consume everything around us, in our fear that it might not always be there. Eating without real hunger, drinking without real thirst, wanting without real need. Without boundaries around us, we plunge into life greedy and selfish, not unlike our Haflingers. Our boundaries may not be visible like the fences that surround the Haflingers, but they have been set there, nevertheless, to remind us of our crucial inner need for limits.

I know I push against my boundaries just as the Haflingers push down fences that bar them from what they think they want on the other side.

May they always be strong enough to hold me in, or keep me out.   I need to stay where I belong.