Yes Megan, We're Eating in the Barn

I hope you get a chance to eat in a horse barn one day.

There's something about the hushed shadows and shafts of light slanting in through the weathered boards. The sawdust, rustic wood, hay mangers and muscled horses munching in the stalls all invite quiet awe. History is here. Barns have been known to be places of love, revolution and peace. When I come into the humble dust of a barn, I feel close to both heaven and earth. Glory.

You can't really know what you're in for when you purchase your ticket to the Reins of Grace Barn BBQ. Your first step of faith and a generous heart is raising your paddle at Key2Free (an auction to benefit Door to Grace). You buy your tickets back in March at Key2Free and the dust settles until after rodeo season. Then between barrel races in July, Jeanette cleans the barn. Then a few of us we pull on our dusty boots and set the table.

We line up old church tables end-to-end down the middle of the barn between the horse stalls. Underneath the table cloths are fingerprints and paint from children in Sunday School. Market lights criss-cross overhead. We set each place with a loving mix of vintage china, colored goblets and tumblers from Theme Vintage. We lay a long burlap runner and fill the center with horseshoes, loving cups, horse trophies and paint by numbers along with sprigs of lavender and blue hydrangeas from the garden. The chairs are a collection of mismatched thrift store finds, just perfect for saying, "Welcome!"

We set the table for the rowdy and rescued. The horses at this barn are a mix of high-spirited barrel racers and others rescued from mistreatment and neglect. We know and love girls rescued from "the life". We welcome their broken hearts into our Door to Grace Day Home alongside our own. I know my cracked heart has indeed been rescued, once long ago when I was twelve and again every single day of the world.

Our friends arrive along the winding dusty road. We pour iced tea, cold beers and cups of wine. The visiting begins. Food is served hot off the grill, made by generous hands and donated to this shindig, the Reins of Grace Barn BBQ.

Reins of Grace is the brainchild of Jeannette and her daughter Megan. They take their love for each other, horses, Jesus and hospitality and bring together hearts for healing and strength. There's something about the space between horse and heart, especially a broken one.

When we meet a horse, we meet a strong steed that reads us too well at a glance, not as we like to think of ourselves, but as we truly are. There is a sacred space between horse and human where relationship is weighed and gifted. There may be some fear and a bit of awe when we get up close to his muscled thigh and flowing mane. In this magic space can grow trust, acceptance and grace. We are welcome in or perhaps held at bay at first; flaws, fears and true feelings make themselves known. Apples offered in brave hands often bridge the gap.

When the twilight cools this hot afternoon and the market lights shine, we break for homemade desserts in one of the stalls where we hung an old chandelier with chunk of rope.

This summer was the second time friends of Door to Grace have gathered at the barn. It is a moment of summer and mercy caught in a Mason jar just for the night and released at dark until next year when we will meet again, some old friends and some new.

Early the next morning this poem cantered out of my heart. I gave it to Jeannette as a thank you for her open heart and generosity.

Rodeo Girl

Boots kicking up dust along the narrow road
In the middle of sweet July
Balancing a still-warm berry pie
To the barn resting under a wide open sky
Where friends would meet when the sun settled down.
I pulled back the wooden door on its tracks
To weathered boards sawn in stacks,
Hammer and nail swing from strong backs
She said, “Bless the bread.”

Light streamed in between rough gray boards,
A table set long and straight
Down the middle between the horse gates,
Colored stems and mismatched china plates
String lights criss-cross overhead
With a twilight view over Parrett Mountain territory
The rodeo girl told her story
Of the horse and his return to strength and glory.
She said, “Bless the bread.”

The light came from home
A crystal chandelier, vintage overhaul
Hung with rope in the horse stall
From a 2x4 board above the wall,
Faceted drops clear and amethyst
Cut through the dimming light
To fresh-cut hydrangea blue and bright
Overflowing in bottles milk white.
She said, “Bless the bread.”

Falling on the old barn roof
Count the silver drops of rain
Try to measure heaven’s mane
Give dimension to vineyard terrain,
Gently rolling hills in summer sunshine
Warm and long the day
Rounded sighs with each slanting ray
Filtering the sweet smells of apples and hay.
She said, “Bless the bread.”

On this July night, the horse barn lived up to it's story. Down an old dirt road, it was filled with love, revolution and peace.