Saturday, June 28, 2008

Home on the Range

Sometimes my job includes splashing through mud and water on a high speed chase.  At least yesterday it did.  I went out to visit a family on their (mobile) farm.  Two little white tents by a low sheep corral.  Outside it's brown dirt floor is a lawn of immeasurable green stretching miles to the jagged horizon dotted with green trees reaching toward a sky full of grey potential.    

Sometimes openings into the spiritual side of life just open up.  When sitting down to tea in this family's mobile home (without wheels), the man of the house started asking about Jesus.  The most pressing question?  Can I mix belief with Jesus into my current belief system?  That doesn't sound so bad does it?  We all came to Jesus with out own views values and biases.  We accepted Him as Truth, through all our veiled view of what we consider to be true.  But the way this man asks it though, religious red flags go up quick.  Can I mix Jesus into my Mongolian religion?  Its the same feeling you might get from a friend who is agnostic about prayer: "can't hurt, might help".

We go back out toward the car, and drive across a stretch of grass the length of a par 3 fairway. Perched on a little ridge is a string of probably 10 or  more ponies all neatly dressed in colorful horse blankets.  They are all tied to a high rope, and like all Mongolian horses, they're ponies but special ones.  These are the race horses, being trained for the upcoming festivities in July, the equivalent of the state fair called Naadam.  The word means game, but is closer in meaning and feel to rodeo.  My host gets out and grooms a few of his pest ponies, then it's off to the races.

Today is the first day of exercising the race horses.  A few drops of rain tickle our heads, but are shaken off as only a tease.    My host points to the grey horizon.  It’s visibly raining 10 miles away.  He explains how all day yesterday it was the same thing, raining over there, but not here on his own pasturelands.  For a people who make their home on the range, rain is regarded as wealth because it makes the grass long and rich, making their animals give more milk, bringing more money at the market.  Summer rain is liquid gold.

So the owner of this mobile ranch motions to the clouds that won’t seem to come and says, won’t you pray to Jesus for that rain to come over here?  I indicate affirmative and gaze into the grey through the windshield of the car.  We drive along behind the horses as they walk along a dirt road they use for a race track.  Then we wait until they start to run.  My horseman host starts yelling with a shrill of a Cheyenne, whether at me or his horses at first I’m not sure.  Turns out it’s both  I’m to follow those running ponies so he can continue his war cries toward equine ears and those of the child jockey bouncing and pulling away.

A few minutes after we get back, it rains and rains until the water is streaming down the gulley.  At least two inches of rain fall in about 15 minutes.  The horsemen and his helpers whipped off their shirts to get a rain shower, the only kind available out here on the range.  We drive back to the corral area.  We roar through a two feet deep lake/river that flooded over the grass.  In a half hour the fairway has turned water hazard.


Invited into the little white round felt home of the ranch for tea, I notice there’s rain water on the floor and on the only stool.  I sit on it anyway.  The tea helps warm us up enough to press on with the next task. 


The calves hanging around the corral have vanished in the storm.  Everyone is scrambling and searching, yelling across roaring waters asking who has looked where.  We get in the car and head down to the river and see the group of calves galloping away on the far side of the river which has tripled in size.  We crawl though it and try to punch in front of the leader of the group.  We stop to pick up two of the horseman’s daughters who have run all the way their trying to retrieve their livelihood.  Finally, we get in front of the calves and turn them back, herd them across the river toward home, only to find their mothers have entered the scene.  So we have to turn and herd the cows back up toward their day pasture from where they had just run to seemingly rescue their calves.


It wasn’t until after I dropped off the rancher/horseman at his home that I realized his request for rain from Jesus has been answered.  He got his request whether he knew it or not. But my joy was a little less for having failed to pass along his prayer personally to Jesus.  The blessing fell from the sky, whether I prayed for it or not.  But my role in the result was diminished missed my chance to pray. 

To sum up, the storm was a rush to experience.  But I missed the rush that comes from praying in faith and having God powerfully and immediately answer. Quicker to pray next time.


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