On the ranch I work on in eastern Montana there are pastures so vast that you can see or ride your horse endlessly for miles without encountering another human being or civilization.  The pastures are bountiful in their emptiness, offering the respite of solitude and the space for room to grow; wide open spaces to mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually just be me.  I easily find myself forced inward by the sparseness of what is outward and visible in all this land and sky, and once within find an expansiveness and openness that has allowed me to discover gifts in myself and others that are much harder to recognize or find while sitting in front of a computer or TV, shopping at the mall or lost in a crowd at a large event.

We tend to get so caught up in the daily grid that it is easy to lose sight of the big picture of our lives.  Here you can see for miles with the freedom of no visible boundaries which inspires me to dream of the endless possibilities in my own life.  While it may appear to be empty the land itself shows me that so many possibilities are inherent in the flow of the land from its dramatic draws that can’t be navigated by vehicle or ATV’s, to odd twists and cut banks and proud buttes.  There is also a wide variety of plant and animal life.  You never know if you will come across a rattlesnake, badger, antelope, hawk or sage grouse, reminding me that the possibilities are truly endless when you can see the emptiness of your own life as full of variety.

This is sacred space that returns me to the center of who I am, even when I myself cannot see the outer boundaries, where I find that what seems harsh at times and almost empty is merely open, a door and an reminder to me to return to a simpler holy state within myself where my heart and mind is just as open and vast.  (Written for Montana Ranch Girl)

Thursday my horse and I hit “terra firma” chasing a heifer down the fence line.  Our landing happened to be in the middle of a prickly pear patch. While I know God often teaches the most profound lessons through His creation and nature provides life lessons in a variety of different ways, it is a challenge to keep an open  mind and heart to what God has to say to me as I am pulling cactus spines out of myself and my horse (and will be for months to come).

The understanding that has eventually came to me is that while our path in life is often full of “prickly pear” situations, people and circumstances, we too like the cactus can adapt to the harshest environments successfully and even find beauty in them.  For the last few years my own life has been full of cactus to the point where I have felt like I was being pricked and poked wherever I stepped, but I’m coming to understand that I was put on this path to become strong enough to fulfill God’s purpose for me and at the end of the trail there is beauty in these unfriendly situations and my life like the cactus will once again bloom.  (Written in Montana Ranch Girl)

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