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The rancher: I watched him all week

rancher man horseback sunset field

Alla-V | Shutterstock

Jennifer Hubbard - published on 09/21/23

It was as if he expected the horse to startle. Amidst the whinnying and rearing, he sat pressed into his saddle, pulling and applying pressure until there was a settling.

In the hurried coming and going of business travel, I study through the plane’s porthole the unique topography of the towns I’ve travelled as we make our approach and that which borders highways and byways I’ve traversed at dawn and dusk. And still, somewhere between powering down approved electronics and GPSs announcing I have arrived, I find myself struck by how mountains tower, sand spans for miles, towns twinkle in the distance, or how plains stretch uninterrupted into the horizon. And I am reminded of the pure majesty of God’s creation.  

On a recent trip, though, it was different. There would be no business to attend, there would be no rushing, and I would not be alone. No, this trip was a complete immersion into amber waves of grain and treks to breathtaking heights with my son. 

I watched as he studied the landscape’s details as we made our approach into the small, dusty airport. I leaned over and whispered, “Welcome to God’s country.” What I did not realize is that my whisper to my brave one was not only intended for my son. I would deepen my understanding of what that truly meant.

Led by a rancher, we, on horseback, pushed the cows to safer ground. Mile by mile, we made our way through tightly packed forests, littered with snapping and protruding branches, and navigated downed trees, through bogs and prairie, to safer pastures. Even though cows resisted the ominous forests, the rancher pressed on, knowing what awaited was open meadow, where breezes would kiss our face and grasses would wave pristine as if welcoming me into a canvas painted for my delight. 

Uneventful and predictable quickly changed as the rancher’s horse startled as we approached a daunting forest. Refusing to continue, the mare reared and whinnied, creating a chain reaction among the horses immediately surrounding.   

I had been watching the rancher all week. In the morning he would walk the makeshift corral, counting each one. And as they were saddled, he would lean into their neck, whispering what I will never know. He’d rub their neck as he debriefed that day’s rider, explaining what made them skittish and what would excite. So, it was as if the rancher knew this moment of startling was to be expected. Amidst the wildfire of whinnying and rearing, he sat pressed into his saddle, pulling and applying pressure until there was a settling. And when the revolt was over, the rancher stroked the tentative horse’s neck and led her into the woods.

And I — I sighed deeply in a knowing that as we navigated God’s country unrushed, I was steeped in awe of not only the majesty of His creation, but of a deeper understanding of His true character. 


This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.

Spiritual LifeThe Human Being Fully Alive
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