Tag Archives: land sky and sea

horses

I’m linking up with Amber Haines  for her weekly Concrete to Abstract writing assignment. As usual, her piece is stunning and the others linked to hers are excellent as well. Please go check them out and join up with us if you like.

My girls love horses. They have friends who let them ride. A dear family friend closed a betrothal deal with my youngest gal and his least fella, with a horse. Molly loves that horse. The fella, she said, “suits her fine.”  My girls have always begged to ride, to take lessons and they have been graciously offered many such experiences. They so love the horses.

Number One Son and I have a little different view of the sometimes still wild beasts.

It started for me when I went to work.  A sweet family let me stay half way with them many days on my longish commute to and from the college where I worked. I had their daughter in a class. She liked me and they adopted me, and well, I stayed at their farm many dark, cold nights.

They had horses. Not, slow-moving trail horses, the kind used to transport kiddos and old folks. HORSES. The daughter, 19, was a national champion barrel racer. Their horses didn’t look or run like any horses I had ever been near. They were Maserati’s on legs. They had two speeds: GO! and STOP! I only rode them once or twice with her. When I would go watch her race, I never stopped praying – they churned the ground they ran upon, it flew high as their backs. She, my student, nearly flew off them on every turn. The race of seconds felt an eternity.

Horses became wildness and fury and strength that might be pled a direction, if it seemed  good to the horse.

In Costa Rica, we flew above birds and monkeys in the tree-tops and bounced down rapid rivers that we would rate higher here. We explored volcanoed paths and slept nearly uncovered in dark, deep jungles. I roared laughter and delight in all of it, until our little jaunt on the horses. Here, my intrepid son and I broke ranks with adventure. Our trail ride was 3 hours, 3 hours of knee-deep mud and then rocky climbs, now made muddy as well. Our steeds were small and sure-footed and forever fond of the trot. They beat us and then for sport had us clinging to their manes to stay somehow aboard as we climbed. I might have uttered a few French words at the little Spanish speakers. I thought that trip would never end, we would never return to the relative safety of the jungle.

Those horses did as they pleased, well. Unfortunately, their pleasure and ours seemed worlds apart.  Their bodies made for those places and spaces, constantly pulled at us – trying to slow them to a gentle walk, to let them on out, away. They tossed their heads and pulled through our reigning in. It seemed a battle where they were stronger and wiser and we weak and full of fear.

Horses became the strength and certitude of One who would not explain, but would deliver us, if beaten and bruised, anyway.

For my mother’s 70th birthday, she took us, don’t you love that? to Cumberland Island, the largest and least populated isle off the Georgia Coast. A few families hold it, now in trust, as it has been ceded back to the state and ultimately all of us in these states, united. To say people hardy populate it is an understatement…I stood several times on a beach nearly twenty miles in length, not one other soul upon those soft sands.  It is primal and pristine. The oldest sons of the isle are not the Carnegie Clan whose granddaughters authored the Trust. The oldest line are the horses the Spanish brought as early as 1500. They have the run of their station and they take such seriously. They: browns, grays, whites and dappled, appear from nowhere: rush through a thicket, careen around the corners of the few homesteads and houses we visitors stay within. They look tranquil as they graze a far off on the moon and star lit dunes, but they fly at will and never cease to surprise in their nearness, their sudden appearing.

Horse became the Inheritor, always near, even if obscured… always ready to charge, bursting forth, coming quickly, not at our bidding, but in pursuit of  his own purpose.

How powerfully horses speak to our persons.  I have not seen them as a pet to parade or an always gentle beast, but I have come to love them, too.

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Bahia del Espíritu Santo

For the last few summers, I have been traveling south, as in, of the border, with some of my kiddos and dearest friends. The water has been beautiful, the creatures wild and wonderful, the landforms breathtaking. I have been comforted and nurtured in those places where the names of holy things seemed as beautiful on Latin lips as did the entities themselves. This summer, I am staying stateside. My heart is pulling me to a place I have visited once before. We, Americans, call it Mobile Bay. Such a title seems a taunt to my summer groundedness.

But, I discovered an interesting fact that had long escaped me, today. Karen Zacharias, my writer hero, informed me that the Spanish had once named the Bay of Mobile, the Bay of The Holy Spirit. Well, as I have had some of my best moments on and near to that stretch of water, I have to believe the Spanish explorers were on to something.

In 2003, a few very brave ladies and I loaded up all of our children and a few dear, 18-20 year olds and took them all to stare into and over those waters of the Spirit. Imagine the seashore sans snow-cones and Skeeball, much less roller-coasters and redneck air- brush. God did deep healing in me that week as I watched children corral crabs and seine shrimp and flick fish from the waves. The quiet, interrupted only by delight, cured.

We took nets and lines and buckets. We had nearly no phone nor radio reception. We cooked our own food, well, my world-class cook/chef friends cooked our own food, be jealous. We rested on beaches where no one’s shadow ever fell across us. We caught our breath and a clue as to how much beauty resides all about us.

That’s the way I love to do vacation: with dear friends who can stand the quiet and children who are as curious about creation and the other creatures which share the earth as I am.

I am officially planning another trip this summer…Karen’s re-introduction confirmed a dream which I was holding in my heart to return.

“Bahia del Espíritu Santo,” indeed.

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“Friend!”

I went to Meg’s track meet today and ended up helping judge/measure the long and triple jump. That meant that I was down on the old field, not the 100 gillion dollar field that rivals the Dallas Cowboys’. The old field was grass, not Bermuda or Zoysia or anything specifically planted for the purpose of our events. It was just good, freely growing grass. And along the edge of it, was a wild wood.

The day was heavy, the air seemed especially so, with a cool humidity that hung about, cloud-like. But Spring cried out through it, with the crisp, sweet, high and bright smells of life gaining ground. Green perfumed the air. All manner of plants were pushing up powerfully, taking their place for the long haul of summer. Just under the falling stands, grew volunteer beets, probably first planted 50 years ago and wild spring greens. There was a lacy carpet of white flowers astride blood-letting stems and  leaves – blackberries.

The wood about us seemed an old one, long undisturbed saved for a few boys’ wanderings with bb guns. The trees are larger than they are now allowed  to grow in our suburbia. The steepness of the property probably protected it and its trees from the developers. It was my kind of wood.

I wandered ( as I am want to do) the periphery and dreamed of following those signs and sirens of life on in. I really thought about vacating my volunteer post, (I truly volunteered, I was not assigned the duties that I took up) to make my way across the berries, and down the tangle,  to the stand of oaks just beyond the greening vines. I was not dressed for such, I was surrounded by children, not born of the woods like me, and parents who would have frowned. But that did not dissuade me. Only the need of the volunteered parents ( I have been there) did so.  So, I watched the line and the landings and decided that, next time, I would dress to go in and meet up with what has too long been alone.

Sarah practices soccer on that field from time to time. When she does, her Mama will don her best wood-walking boots and take or make a trail or two to know better what called to me, “Friend!”

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