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No boundaries

Minus distractions, creative love is easier to see


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I wasn’t a fan of the chorus that made its way through worship circles, the one that coupled “reckless” with God’s love, but I’m perfectly comfortable using that descriptive in regard to us, His fallen creatures. In fact, I married a man who chose that very word to express himself in his senior yearbook. He could pick two adjectives out of the entire Webster’s dictionary, and that’s where he landed—reckless. Had my high school been into such things, my two words very well might have been “not reckless,” so there you go. Opposites do attract.

That’s why I was nervous last February when he invited me on a three-hour adventure in a desolate corner of Copiah County, Miss. I got to glimpse a world he enters with one of our sons during the winter months, a sideline gig working for a forester friend from church. Something called boundary line painting.

In our neck of the woods, timber management companies own large tracts of land with property lines that must stay marked, thus every few years they hire someone for the job. This boundary line business is not for the faint of heart, though. It’s active work—climbing hills and crossing gullies while splashing orange paint on select tree trunks—and it’s best done in the winter when the woods aren’t so thick and snaky. My guys were winding up their season, 146 miles of it, when I decided to tag along.

First, we parked their truck in some place off the grid and unloaded equipment. Using a GPS mapping app, they strategized, then suited up in special overalls, a thick kind made to handle thorns and such. About that time, a crow flew solo overhead, cawing, and it sounded just like he was laughing at me. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have a pair of those overalls.

I was looking at a well-ordered, far-from-reckless expression of God’s love for us.

“Let’s go,” my husband finally called out. We jumped on the four-wheeler and followed a dirt road past a few hunting stands to where the app marked the spot. He plundered through a Rubbermaid tub filled with paint buckets and, of all things, a layer of Spanish moss.

“Absorbs spilled paint real good,” he tried to tell me, but I knew better. He just wanted to plant that stuff on the live oak in our front yard later.

“You know that moss has parasites in it,” I pointed out.

“No, ma’am, I don’t,” he answered over his shoulder. “Everybody in Louisiana would be dead if that’s true.”

Hmmm.

Moments later, my husband got some music playing on a speaker clipped to his backpack, and he set off on foot. I followed behind. I’m good with following him. Soon he eyed a tree with a faded orange mark and took out his brush, quickly taking care of business on both sides. Then it was off to the next one about 30 yards away. I pushed through vines and soggy leaves, trying to keep any flying paint from finding me.

My husband was always looking for the next tree. I had the enviable role of just looking. Looking at coon tracks and creek banks, at trees with limbs that kissed the dirt. I was looking at a well-ordered, far-from-reckless expression of God’s love for us. It’s different out in the boonies, with the nearest distraction a mile away. No stolen glances here. Only staring, eyes wide open.

A half hour into our adventure, the boundary line painter showed me what was left of some yellow markings on the tree. “Lead paint from years ago, when timber companies could use it. It lasted a lot longer.” Interesting.

I did most of my walking in an old fire lane cut by some long-ago crew. My husband was always a few yards away, paint brush in hand. Once, we came to a ditch, and he reached out an orange hand to pull me across. It was almost romantic. At the top of a hill, I asked him about his glasses.

“Wire mesh,” he replied, alluding to their ability to withstand briars. Then he showed me a bell he wears to warn hunters he’s not a deer. “Good,” I nodded, thinking how very prudent the high school version of my husband has become.

By midafternoon, the work was done, but along the way I found the skeleton of a wild boar and crossed a stream over my boots. I also got orange paint on my favorite flannel shirt. Now I wear it and remember God’s creative love in both creation and marriage.


Kim Henderson

Kim is a World Journalism Institute graduate and senior correspondent for WORLD. During her career as a homeschool mom, she worked as a freelance writer. Kim resides in Mississippi with her family.

@kimhenderson319

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