Flight to The Barn – Walk With Ken Boyle XXX

Comment from Ken: My dad’s farm in Barrington, New Hampshire was purchased in 1951. How that farm changed my life and that of my sisters and brothers. As city kids, we learned the world of nature and the beauty of God’s creation there in that old farmhouse with its tremendous barn. Do you have such a place in your memory?

This was written on Tuesday when it was raining!!

Scripture:

Luke 12: 22 – 31

22Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. 24Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap,
which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? 25And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 

26If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? 27Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28If then God so clothes the grass,
which today is in the field 
and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe
you, O you of little faith? 

29“And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

 

It is raining again! It is raining again! How grateful I am that we cut the grass in front of our home this past weekend and that Dale had time to do some gardening. If it were not for the leaves on the trees outside of my window, it might as well be November with the cold rain and gray skies. The beginning of November at the farm in Barrington, New Hampshire always seemed to be cold and dreary. But it’s not November, and there is the promise that the weather is going to become more like it should be in June. Let’s just hope we don’t go from spring to the muggy heat of summer.

I’m not really complaining; it is just not good weather for our walk. I’m comfortable in the kitchen with my dog Molly lying quietly, for right now, in her bed. We have been drenched, the two of us, when we have gone out for a short necessary walk, but now we are hunkered down and happy to have a nice shelter to protect us from the wind and rain outside.

Today is the kind of day that when I was a young man I would go into the barn and work on or with my sawmill. The barn at Greenhill Farm was a wonderful old barn. It’s beams were amazingly long and all hand hewn. Some of the beams had to be thirty or more feet across the width of the barn. The barn had to be close to thirty feet wide and eighty feet long. The barn was not set on a concrete foundation; rather, it sat on huge rocks that had been placed on top of each other as a pier or footing. One would have thought that the barn over the years would be sway-backed from frost heaves shifting those rocks. That was not so. If you sighted the ridgepole of the barn, it was as level and straight as could be.

When the farm was purchased in 1951, some twenty feet by twenty feet square of the roof was missing. My father’s explanation was that someone had left the huge front doors open and that a high wind had built up pressure inside the barn, and therefore, part of the roof was blown away. There was so much to do to make the farmhouse livable that it was some time before the roof on the barn could be repaired. Eventually the roof was shingled. How well I remember that. The shingles were purchased from Sears and Roebuck, and they were delivered by a trailer-truck. The truck driver would bring the bundles of shingles to the tailgate, and I had to bring them into the barn. It was a long, tiring job done in the late afternoon.

We had to replace the roof shingles for not only were they worn by the weather, they had holes in them; the holes had been made by rifle bullets. It seemed the former tenants at the farm found delight in shooting the barn swallows. Can we even imagine that?

One of the wonderful parts of entering the barn was the dive-bombing noisy barn swallows. They thought they owned the barn, and they did not like sharing it with the likes of us humans. Their nests were precariously made on the cross beams of the roof. And when August arrived, we would be reminded that the summer was moving fast toward fall, and then the barn swallows would fly away. It was always a surprise to enter the barn near the end of August and find that the noise of the barn swallows had disappeared. There would be a few young birds left, but they too would leave before winter came.

Inside the barn was the lingering smell of hay. The first year my dad owned the farm, Fred Mudgett, a farmer nearby, cut the hay and stored it loose in the barn. We had a wonderful time jumping off the beams into the hay, crying out as we jumped, “ Goodbye cruel world.” Far from cruel world, the barn was a great place to be anytime of the year. After the first few years of having the barn filled with loose hay, Fred purchased a baler, and after that, the barn was filled with bales of hay. We could no longer jump off the beams into the soft yellow-green hay.

When my grandfather owned the farm, it was a true farm. There were many horses and cows back in the early nineteen hundreds. My father recalled how when he was a boy, the barn would be filled from the floor to the roof with hay. As a matter of fact, they would put poles across the lower beams in the center of the barn so that they could store even more hay for the winter. It was like a tunnel of hay when you entered the barn to feed the cows and horses.

One night as my father entered the barn to feed the cows, he walked into that tunnel of hay, and suddenly in his lantern light, there were two eyes staring at him at the far end of the corridor. Startled and somewhat frightened, my father found that the eyes belonged to a calf that had broken loose.

After the farm was sold by my father and mother and new owners took over, a terrible fire destroyed the farmhouse we all loved. The barn survived but someone purchased that, and it was taken apart and moved piece by piece to another location. I do not know where it was taken. How I hope it was put back together again.

It was scary to enter the barn on a cold, windy night; loose shingles made weird and frightening sounds. The barn creaked as its pegged beams moved in the wind. There was only a single light bulb way up in the barn that lighted the cavernous space at night. Dark and darker shadows fought back the fake daylight.

So many sermons could be written about the barn at Greenhill Farm: a shelter from the winter, the smell of fresh hay, the warmth in the barn from living creatures, the carelessness of some people regarding property, or the world of nature.

The Christian hears about barns in Scripture. John the Baptist tells people who come to be baptized and confess their sins that one will follow him who will baptize with fire and with the Holy Spirit. The one who is to come is his cousin Jesus who will clean out the threshing floor, who will gather the wheat into his barn, and the chaff that is left over will be burned and destroyed.

Jesus, in the Gospel of Matthew, tells how the birds of the air do not have barns to store wheat in for the winter. God takes care of them just as He will take care of you and me. We need not fear the future if we have our loving God.

Also in the Bible is the story of the man who had such a great harvest that he built more barns in which to store his harvest. Foolish man: his soul was called, and life was over before he could enjoy the profit he had spent his life achieving.

The barn at Greenhill Farm – it was a wonderful shelter. Down in the lower meadow, a young man is raking up the hay. He looks to the west and sees dark clouds and the flash of lightening. The wind picks up, and it is now cold; the day has been so very hot. Then he can see the rain sweeping across the further field. He opens the throttle on the tractor and heads for the barn as fast as that tractor will travel. Lightening flashes, the rain cuts for there is now hail as well as rain; the grass is turning white under the black-gray sky. He pulls into the barn out of the storm. He is safe in the old barn. So in the storm of life, that young man has always sought to quickly find a safe place like the barn – the barn, the shelter – the shelter where our Lord was born. The old barn is a symbol of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is to Him we flee in the storm of life when shadows grow dark, when a storm falls upon us, and when we are happy and need to be enfolded in a warm and hay-smelling sheltered place. – He is great like the barn embracing all those who love Him. Amen.

Prayer: Almighty God, we thank you for the lessons, the gift of Holy Scripture. Our Bible teaches us about life, and it tells us to look at our world with eyes that see the hand of You our God. A New England barn can bring the teachings of Jesus Christ into our daily lives; the flower of the field can teach us of how we need not worry about our daily needs for you will fulfill them. Help us to look with eyes that see Your love each and every day we are alive.

I’ll walk again with you next week.

“And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”

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