Many years ago a precious friend gave Michael the nickname “Magnum”. I think it was a great description of a big guy with a big personality and a big heart. So when we found the property that would eventually become our land that Michael loved, there was no better name for it than Magnum Farms.
As we bought these 250 acres, we found much of it criss-crossed by barbed-wire fencing and overgrown tree lines. Michael had a vision of something different and he set out to clean it up and dress it up. As the years passed he and his crew dressed it into more of a park, with rolling pasture land and four ponds filled with fish and the occasional alligator. His long term vision was that there would be about a dozen cottages scattered across the acreage to be used as quiet places of retreat for those in ministry needing a place of respite. Unfortunately he was not able to see that happen.
Now comes the time to say goodbye to Magnum Farms. Those close to Michael and I know that this farm was always Michael’s dream. I am the city girl and he was the country-loving boy. (Think Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert in Green Acres.) Even though that was the case, and in spite of some of the hard memories I’ve relayed, I loved coming here. But I loved it because Michael was here. And if given the chance I’d still be coming up here with him — because wherever he went, I was going too.
If Michael was still alive, we’d still be coming to the farm and I wouldn’t be saying another goodbye. But he isn’t. And I am. This somehow seems like just another in a long list of goodbyes.
So as I leave I know that this place will no longer be Magnum Farms; it will be known by another name. But a bit of Michael has left an imprint here. Whether it’s the dozens of peach trees he loved so much, or the blueberry bushes and blackberry vines he planted to please his wife. Or maybe it’s the care he took to make sure the land was in better condition than when he bought it. And we can’t forget the incredible farmhouse he built on top of the hill – the big stone fireplace for him, the little fireplace with the punched tin panels for me, the porches to catch the breeze, the windows across three sides of our bedroom so he could see the sun rise. All these things will stay behind as I move on.
And I guess this is how it is meant to be. For who among us can really call the land our own. It is only by God’s grace that we are allowed to tend it for a short time.
The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it. Psalm 24:1