My girls have always wanted to ride horses, especially the little one, Molly. She has pictures all over her room of horses. They have ridden a few times, on vacations -Trent and I retired our desire to ride after riding up faces of sliding rock in Costa Rica. Were good on riding, thanks. We have some friends who have horses that the girls occasionally ride. But, riding lessons have not been in our budget. Until, this week. No, we didn’t win the lottery. “You gotta play to win” and all. But, this week, as Rob took the girls by to see the horses that board not far from our house, he ran into some riders…They struck up a conversation…Rob often takes time to just talk to people. He explained how the girls came by to see, occasionally bring an apple to the horses. Their trainer offered to let them ride, to give them lessons, for nearly nothing. Another woman there, Miriam, joined the conversation. She had been waiting on her young riders who board their horses at this barn as well. She met my girls. She took to them, they are friendly, like their Daddy. She offered the use of her horses, whenever they might want to ride.
I met Miriam yesterday. We went by to check on the horses, to see who might be around feeding, my girls are as interested in taking care of the horses as they are riding. Miriam’s oldest daughter was feeding their horses. Her three-year old was helping keep the horses to their own feed bucket. Her baby was sleeping in her car. She walked up and graciously greeted me, making the connection that I was Molly’s mother. She introduced me to her children who were feeding the horses and invited me to come and talk with her whenever the girls might come ride. Then she suggested that the girls, hers and mine, walk the horses to their pasture a bit down the road. She and I followed in our cars. As we approached the gate, Miriam offered me her phone number and told me to call her anytime my children wanted to come, gave me their riding/ feeding schedule, made me feel more welcome and wanted than I can remember in a long time. What a beautiful, gracious, loving woman she is. Her children are kind and generous and embracing. I feel very blessed to have come to know them.
Miriam and her daughters wear their hair in a scarf, they explained gently to my inquisitive youngest child, that they are muslim. I can see Molly, not much the theologian, shaking her head okay, and grabbing Simine’s hand, “Come on let’s go.” I can see Meg’s mind churning, but loving her friend Sima, from school who is there to ride as well, and chalking up her good fortune to have found a friend and a ride as from God.
Yesterday, on the way over to meet up with our new friends and the horses, Molly asked me. “Mama, what does being a Muslim mean?”
I stopped a minute before I answered and listened to the heart of our God… I told them that we had the same God, the God that came and found Abraham. That we call Him different names but He is the same. I told them that the father of their faith was Abraham’s first son. The father of the Jewish faith was Isaac. They are family. We, the Sullivan and our kin, who trace our ancestry to neither line, are just blessed to be included in such a heritage of God’s choosing and blessing. We are the one’s who are the outsiders, the ones graciously, lovingly not cast aside but taken in and treated as if we were indeed family.
The horse is a powerful symbol in Arab culture of strength and beauty. It symbolizes wealth and nobility, family line. For them to offer us access, unmerited, unproven access to their horses and lives was nothing but grace.
I told my girls that Muslims recognize Jesus as a man of God. They like their cousins, the Jews, who so many believe can do no wrong, do not recognize Him as very God. We, those adopted in, because of Jesus, do believe that anyone that generous, kind and self-sacrificing, must have been God Himself.
Because generous, kind and self-sacrificing pretty much sum up the heart of God, don’t they?