Poem: Cowboy Cathedral

This poem is also inspired by my dad. When asked about his religion, he says, “I deal direct.”

I thought about how being in nature feels like a direct route to the Divine.

Cowboy Cathedral


Dew drenches the morning grass as the cowboy spots his guest
Picking his way up the muddy lane in his rickety Nissan Quest.
The new preacher emerges, shakes hands, “nice to meet you”
Then small talk about the weather as folks are prone to do.
They stroll over to the barn where the cowboy saddles his mare
And he tacks up a gelding while the preacher rambles, unawares.

Conversation runs a little thin and the preacher states his case.
“I’ve been at the parish five months now and I’ve never seen your face
In the house of God, no, not once, and I’m worried about your soul.”
The cowboy focuses his gaze, beyond the preacher, at a frolicking foal.

“Come! Ride!” and he canters off on his sorrel across the pasture.
The preacher feels he has no choice, comes with the job of being pastor.
So he mounts the horse he had ignored and does as he is bidden.
It doesn’t take long until he forgets it’s been years since he has ridden.

Jolted back to childhood as he plunges through sweet wild clover
And yoyoed back to the present when he witnesses a hummingbird hover.
He catches up to the cowboy, perched, overlooking a verdant ravine.
They linger in rapt silence surveying the spectacular scene.

“This is my cathedral” the cowboy whispers, as the playful wind
Pounces on a spray of wild yellow flowers and dances on again.

“See those trees? That’s my heaven-channel. My steeple.
Do you hear how quiet it is without the chatter of all those people?
Talking to God is natural here where it’s silent but for the wind
And the subtle choirs in the grass that make my spirit sing.”

They focus like a circus audience on two whirling red tail hawks.
When the acrobatics are over the cowboy has herded his thoughts.

“I hear folks bemoan their faltering faith and I am right astounded.
How could anyone doubt, when by all this, we are surrounded?
Those rocks that look like they’ve been poured make me feel mighty small
And I’ve come ’round to believing it is the healthiest perspective of all.”

Touching his finger to his lips, he leads the preacher’s eyes
To a deer with her fawn foraging under paint by number skies.

“Most church folk worship for one, maybe two hours a week, at best.
But up here in the Cowboy Cathedral the worship never rests.
You breathe it in. You live it in every action. It permeates your being.
You know yourself, your spirit’s been touched today by all you’re seeing.”

The preacher had to admit he felt closer to God than he’d ever been.
And he realized for this cowboy’s soul he had no need to intervene.
What he came to do and what he learned, completely unexpected
But the preacher had to admit the cowboy’s perspective he respected.

Sunday mornings the cowboy stays at home just like he’s always done
And the preacher doesn’t worry about this cowboy’s soul, no, not this one.
From time to time he sends over a person whose soul is bruised and reeling
So they can attend the Cowboy Cathedral, so the soul can commence its healing.