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Deborah Kastner, October 13 2023

Sophie, a Goat and an Owl

The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth He has given to man.  Psalm 115:16

Someone sits in the shade today because someone planted a tree long ago.” 

I’ve been told this is an old Chinese proverb, or that Warren Buffet is given credit, but today I am going to say my dad taught me this. He used to say, When you buy a house, plant a treefor it will add the greatest value. In his own way he was saying, invest in this life, give back to the degree you are able with the gifts you have been blessed with. 

During the last several weeks, the word ‘intentional’ has been brought up. Life is precious and should be lived intentionally, by living well and stepping into life daily, with awareness, openness, curiosity, an open heart and understanding of what really matters.

Much of life today is cluttered with things and yet the one thing Covid did for us all was provide an opportunity to hit the reset button. To pause and ask ourselves what really matters. To pay attention to the little things that provide meaning; the stories that move us. To provoke within us a desire to feel our humanity and what it beckons us to do in response to the daily interactions we encounter. 

The Huntress was drawn into the forest…something was calling to her and she felt led to follow the voice. She prepared what she needed and started out, not knowing where it would lead. She only knew she was being called to an unfamiliar path, yet she believed somehow her past had prepared her for this moment. 

Gary and I are a year and a half into our life journey here on the Ranch. We are the first to admit that we are learning as we grow, and feel a renewed sense of value in the everydayness of life. We try to approach it with a sense of stewardship, aware that these moments matter. I am ready to approach a piece of “that fragile life system” with care and thoughtfulness as I begin to dissect and make sense of it. To begin each day with meaning and purpose with the knowledge that nothing given with love and intention is lost. That even when a seed goes into the ground, at some point it comes back with a life of its own. 

Most recently we experienced the death of one of our farm animals, a first for us, for we consider them family. It happened very quickly and yet the days leading up to it became itself a lesson of just how fragile life can be. I noticed Coconut, our lively Nigerian goat, seemed quiet. He was the one who always greeted you at the gate, letting you know of his presence. Although small in stature, he was the one that took up the space. I loved his playful spirit. It gave me reason to pause and just be in the moment and feel “happy and joyful”, right with him. Yet, this day he seemed different. Or was I just imagining? I tucked the thought away…. 

The Huntress followed the path through the woods, observing the life around her. Appreciating all that creation offered, a gift and acknowledging that all of life matters, feeling alive she moved forward and noticed a movement in the woods. She stopped, trying to listen and observe, perhaps this was today’s provision. 

As a community here at the Ranch we decided to hold monthly Round Table Discussions. They are an invitation to enter into a deeper relationship with one another, allowing each of us to be a bit more vulnerable and open up in meaningful ways. Planting seeds for what we hoped would connect us with one another to support and encourage each other to live more fulfilling lives. 

During one of these get-togethers ‘Sophie’ seemed quieter, withdrawn, and somewhat distracted from what was taking place. Or was I reading her wrong? She was gifted with a great sense of humor and always lit up a conversation. Not in ways that overshadowed, but rather warmly and insightful. She brought a joyful twist that allowed you to stop and just enjoy the moment. I love her for that. 

Sophie shared that her young marriage had come to an end. She was broken, devastated, and desperate to grasp what her life would become. None of us had answers that met the cry of her heart. Instead, we embraced her with offers to be there for whatever she needed in the days ahead. Something had died for her, and she was left to wonder what shape or form her new life would take.  The feelings of betrayal; death of a dream; a broken commitment had all left her with a huge, gaping hole inside. Seeing the depth of her pain took my breath…and my heart ached for her. Sometimes there are no words, the greatest gift is to support her in her journey, as she moves forward one step at a time, trying to put the pieces back together into a meaningful and intentional life. 

Coconut’s health declined the next couple of days. Twice an emergency vet came out to assist him in whatever way he could. The sickness won out and we cried in those last moments. The tears brought cleansing and clarity for me. Life is fragile. I have learned to take those extra moments to listen and observe, and to keep an awareness in the everydayness of life, even with our animals.

 Life turns on moments. Our task is to meet those moments with grace, awareness and a dignity that supports those in need. The cycle of life continues. A tree planted will grow if cared for. 

The huntress looked up to see a wise old owl in the tree. He turned his head, feathers ruffled, waiting, watching…as a reminder to the huntress to stay alert and in tune with one’s surroundings. The owl spoke softly to her heart, “Be still and know…” The huntress felt safe, supported and seen in that moment.  Psalm 46:10

I’ve changed some of the names in this story, to protect those I have grown to love.  ‘Sophie’ is growing as an individual and is a beauty to behold. She has found herself again and nothing will stop her now. She’s not just the focus of the story, she has become its author. 

Written by

Deborah Kastner

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