Friday, April 6, 2012

Cleaning Out Our Life's Barn

Where The Barn Used To Be
Off In The Distance
When we first moved to a farm when I was in 8th grade, it had several out buildings, a lot of pasture, a big house and a gigantic old barn.  The barn was majestic with worn paint, but it provided a great place for me to hide, roam, and treat as if it was my own world.  My cats would hide in the left over hay bales and found it was a warm refuge from the weather and my father.

The barn no longer stands where it once did as it has been torn down.  As majestic as it was, full of those old timbers, it was really a mess inside.  It seemed as if someone had used it over the years, but never taken a moment to tidy it up or clean it out.  It was an accumulation of so much that one could have a history lesson inside its walls.

This applied to how dirty it was from left over animal material.  In the low end of the barn, the accumulation was over a foot in depth and was dried and hard.  It had become the floor in many ways and was crowding in on the ceiling.  Our job as kids was to go in and clean this out which meant chipping, picking away at it, and shoveling it outside the door to be spread on a nearby field.

It was grueling work for an 8th grader but I wanted to see the barn cleaned out.  As I began to clean it out, I soon found a nice cement floor underneath.  The more I cleaned, the more space there was to stand up inside.  Because it sat on the downside of a hill underneath the barn, it was protected from the weather with the help of a cement block wall.  Inside this part of the barn, you always felt secure, safe and protected.

Life is like this old barn in many ways.  All too often we add things from our early days and childhood into the barn.  It becomes a storage depot that we add to, but never take away from or clean out.  Little by little it accumulates and we don't really notice it until one day, we realize that we can no longer see the floor, or walk upright.

The more experiences we have in life, the more we store in our barns.  If we're not careful, we begin to hide the foundations of our life, showing exactly what is beneath us or exactly who we are.  We get a false sense of our world by thinking the floor is over a foot thick instead of the beautiful cement floor underneath.  We get choked up by the dirty air, rather than realizing what a clean, well ventilated barn feels like.  The barn in our life becomes a place that we stay out of, rather then spending time in because of the clutter, dirt, and neglect.

With life rolling along, we become accustomed to not going into the barn of our life because it is a place we just have no desire to go.  We live on the outside of the barn weathering the winter storms of life, hoping to catch refuge from cold and wind.  We live in the false illusion that by ignoring it, that it will just go away, not exist or really not matter.

It is not until we step inside the barn, that we being the process of reclaiming more and more of our life.  It is not until we begin chipping away at the false floor before our feet that we find the beautiful floor of cement of our life, waiting for us to stand on.  Yes, it is hard work just to chip and pick and shovel away.  The work is sometimes exhausting, dirty, and we wonder if we will ever get there.  The more we work at it, the more we see progress in our life.

Cleaning out our life's barn is so much like life.  Unless we enter the door and go inside, we'll never be able to clean it out.  We can sit there all day and hope that it will clean itself, but unless we step inside the door, the process won't happen.  Sure, you may not know what you will find inside and you may not know how much work will be required.  You might even get worn out and tired at times.  However, to reclaim the barn of our life, we must step inside and clean it out.

Life isn't about standing outside in the cold winter winds thinking about what a cleaned out barn could look like and feel like.  Life isn't about hoping and wishing it was a place of refuge and peace.  There is so much more than that which is waiting for us if we only decide to step inside the door and clean out our life's barn.

Too many of us come up against those things in our life that we have hidden and buried.  They are ugly, dirty, and overwhelming.  Instead of trying to clean and clear these things out, we give up by numbing ours self and our emotions.  We hide from life by immersing our days with work, activities, stress and avoidance.  We practice the art of living in life, rather than really being a part of life.

It all starts by opening the door to the barn and stepping inside the barn door.  We all have that option and in the end, it will yield a beautiful space for us to inhabit.  The question is up to each one of us though in how far we allow our self to step inside the door.  Are we willing to clean our our life's barn, or do we wish to sit outside in the cold winter's wind?  The choice is up to each one of us.

Blog Post And Images (c) 3/27/12 Don Shetterly - use and reprint by permission only

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