The Lone Cowboy

The Lone Cowboy

This is my favorite Colorado photo, more than that, perhaps my all-time favorite capture.  A real working cowboy and his cattle dog, barely visible in the tall grass.   It hangs in my home where I see it every day. 

I’m not sure why this capture calls to me so much.  Maybe because I am by nature a quiet person and the solitude, the peace, and the beautiful fall colors I see here all call to my heart?  Maybe because it reminds me of my Dad?  Or all the cowboy movies Dad and I watched on Sunday afternoons?  Maybe because the photo shows movement and action and encourages the same?  All of it?

My Dad and his brothers, Wyoming, circa 1960

We were going up a mountain in Colorado and were surprised by the cowboys and cows coming down. Our German Shepherds were sitting in the back seat of the truck, one momentarily shocked into silence, while the other, our little warrior princess, sat next to him.  She was practically vibrating on high alert as she worked to decide if these strange new creatures were friend or foe.

Cows do not share the road.  When faced with an entire herd of cattle headed your way, all one can really do is stop and let it pass by. We stopped on the “road”, which wasn’t much more than a 1 lane dirt path, and the sea of red, black, and brown cows parted and flowed past us.  Some of them stopped to sniff the truck or moo at us through the open windows. One bold bovine paused to enthusiastically lick the side mirror!  We had a laugh over that! Perhaps a truck is not really a truck unless it’s been baptized in dust and dirt (and cow slobber), sports Colorado pin stripes on the sides, and has mud on the tires. “Big Dog” dog hair in the back seat is also a requirement. 😊

“Colorado Pin Stripes”
Our “Big Dogs”, the Sheps.

The cowboys followed the herd on horseback while their cattle dogs kept their cows on the straight and narrow. I don’t know why this cowboy separated himself, perhaps he was seeking a little solitude from the crowd, or maybe he was taking an alternate route to round up more cattle? Either way, he was moving in his own direction. 

This season we all find ourselves deep in the midst of a pandemic, possibly separated from friends and family, a little anxious, a little stressed. Or, maybe a lot anxious and a lot stressed.  Just like this cowboy, we can sometimes feel quite alone.  And, he is alone, but he’s moving.  He has purpose.  We all do.

“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.  Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are my God, my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” 

David, Psalm 25:4-5, (NIV)

God tells me his ways are not my ways, but I know that he is good and that he hears our prayers in this time of forced solitude.  He will never leave me or forsake me.  He tells me so in his Scriptures and I believe him.  He is my God, my Savior, and my hope is in Him all day long. 

Life has certainly changed a lot these last few months, but the love of God has not.  The Western Slope has not. Both are Vast. Beautiful. Formidable. Colorful.  The clock seems to be moving slower, but that gives us space and time to look to our Creator for all we need.  We will get through this.

I do believe the Country Boy I married liked the herd of cows at least as much, if not more, than I liked the real cowboy and his cattle dog.  And, that’s saying quite a bit.

I captured the scene, but God painted the picture.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” 

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

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