For the better part of a year, I’ve been walking past the same barn at the end of our road. It’s pretty picturesque with a wide rolling hill, mountains in the distance and a wreath that hangs on the loft in all seasons. When we moved to this neighborhood in February 2020, those first walks past the barn were full of promise: a beautiful year lie ahead in our new home. But when our four walls became a quarantine prison only a month later, the walks to the barn turned into a respite from monotony at best, and a place of solidarity to let tears flow most other days.
Sometimes we have to come all the way to the end of a road to know which path to forge next.
One day last fall, as the light began to wane, I tied the laces of my running shoes for a quick jog. The hours preceding my run had been full of venting and frustration and I was so very tired.
I’ll just go to the barn and back, I thought.
As I turned left out of the driveway, an autumn wind picked up and the last of the leaves that had been clinging to maternal branches finally let go. Some heavier oak leaves plunged to the earth; other samaras—the whirligig seeds from nearby maple trees—twisted and swirled in the air before helicoptering to the ground. The fading sun dappled through the trees to the west. And then, just as I reached the barn at the end of the road, a large group of birds—starlings, maybe—came swooping out from the field in perfect formation.
Beginning their journey forward.
I stopped to watch, tears streaming down my face.
Nature completing perfectly ordinary tasks—falling leaves, a setting sun, migrating birds—in absolutely extraordinary harmony. I told a friend later that I thought it was a moment made just for me. An extravagant wink from the Creator who knew my exhaustion. Who understood that I needed a fresh stream of hope.
Little does the farmer who owns the land at the end of the road know how much her barn means to me. Its peaked structure has been a symbol of permanence during a year of upheaval. A stoic friend for those times when all I’m trying to do is catch my breath and still my grief so I can walk the half mile home and face my reality again.
Sometimes the barn is shrouded in fog coming up from the ravine. Sometimes it is surrounded by glorious color. This weekend, its roofline was sheathed in snow.
The barn reminds me that though nothing seems to be changing in my pandemical sphere of humans and home, the backdrop hemming in our little familial orb—protecting it even—continues to unfold, AND it suggests that though the world is groaning in dis-ease and tension, some things remain.
Like the tenderness of a good God who uses nature to speak.
Like the seasons, one after another after another.
Like the barn at the end of the road.