please don’t leave yet

I took a little drive through the country this morning. I do this from time to time looking at properties and dreaming about the one day I’ll have a small farm of my own.  It was a beautiful winter day.  Temperatures were approaching 60 degrees and the sky was clear and blue.  The air crisp with a cool breeze.  But a light jacket was all that was necessary.  I found a place and got out and walked around a bit, soaking in the sun and enjoying this remarkably warm winter day.  It was peaceful.  I stood by a large pond for a bit and listened to the water lapping against the bank and watched as a hawk soared gracefully overhead.  I was alone and yet did not for a second feel alone.  I was surrounded by God’s beauty, His handiwork.  A little piece of Heaven right here on Earth.

I then headed out to the stable where I have my horses.  Another place of respite for this girl.  I can forget about the world, all my responsibilities and worries, for a little while and just be still.  I haven’t been as much as I’d like recently with work and other commitments, but today was the day.

In all the years I’ve spent around horses, I’ve found that they are very reactive to your own mood.  And so it is a practice in self-calming when working with these majestic creatures.  If I’m frustrated, they will be too.  If I’m impatient, they will not cooperate.  If I do not give my complete attention to them, they do not give their complete attention to me.  They force me to focus, to be patient, to chill.

Today was amazing, both of my big critters were missing me I think.  Flash is a big paint gelding who I just recently brought into my family.  He has loads of personality, quite the goofball.  He loves to lick hands and not so gently nudge you when he thinks you have treats or could give him a good rub behind the ears.  He’s like a freight train and will use his size to his advantage when he’s feeling mischievous.  And that’s often.

He is a true joy though.  His personality combined with his capabilities make for one very fun horse.  We are still getting to know one another, but I have high hopes for our partnership as it develops.

He was waiting for me at the gate when I arrived and we had a pretty decent ride.  His feet are a little long and so he was tripping a little.  I think once we get those trimmed back some we’ll have some better rides.  But no matter, it was still a great time spent with the new fellow in my life.  He was brushed and I picked out all the caked mud from his hooves, gave him some carrots and some grain and then walked him back to the pasture.  As I closed the gate, he walked back up as if to say, “please don’t leave yet.”  So I stayed and played with his silly self for a little longer.

I finally walked away and headed to the opposite pasture to pick up my girl for our date… Miss Dolly.  That’s what I called as I walked out to get her.  She lifted her head from the hay and pricked her ears forward, studying me for a moment.  I called once more and she backed away from the hay and began slowly meandering across the hills to meet me.  My beloved Dolly.  My heart horse.

This beautiful lady came into my life when we both needed each other.  I had had a difficult breakup after a series of other failed relationships and she, well, she was also struggling with a past full of people who had failed her.  I knew the first time I saw her that we were kindred spirits.  I recognized the distrust I saw in her eyes.  She had trust issues and so did I.  But she really had a sweet disposition.  Never showed any body language of meanness, only distrust and fear.  I could see myself in her.  Here was a creature who, by all standards, looked normal on the outside, but was dealing with some titanic sized heartbreak on the inside that had left its scars on her psyche.  She was longing to have a friend, a companion… and yet, could not allow herself to get close to anyone for fear they’d leave again.  She was looking for security and a persistent consistency from someone who would just keep trying to break down the wall.  Her struggle was mine too.

Eventually, on a cold December day, she started to place her trust in me.  We’ve been growing our relationship ever since.  She’s a gorgeous paint mare with a strong will and an independent spirit.  She loves deeply and is super loyal to those few she does allow into her life.  She’s very serious and is all about the tasks that must be completed, but also has these random moments of playfulness.

Our time together over the last couple of years has given us both the ability to rely on someone else.  I’ve been her consistent person, and she’s been my teacher.  She teaches me every day.  When I look into her eyes now, I no longer see distrust.  I see my soulmate looking back at me.  She’s such a special being.

Today, after some time just grooming her and talking to her, spoiling her with some treats, I walked her back out to the gate to say goodnight.  I removed her halter and kissed her sweet face… she wouldn’t leave.  She did as Flash did earlier and looked at me as if to say, “please don’t leave yet.”  I stood there for the longest time, just petting her and loving her.  She’s remarkable.  We are still building our partnership when it comes to time in the saddle, but we are connected in ways that I treasure even more.  It’s not often she stands with me after we are finished working or spending time together.  She usually waits long enough for me to remove the halter and then turns and heads for water or to rejoin her friends at the hay bale.  Not today, today was different.  She followed me around the pasture for a while and then walked me back to the gate as I finally had to end our long lasting goodbye.  We stood at the gate for a few more minutes.  It was truly a blessing to have her so attached.

As I left the stable, I felt God giving me such a big lesson using my two largest companions to make His point.  In our hurried lives, rushing from one appointment to the next, we fail to give the time we should to Him. He often says to us, as both Dolly and Flash did to me today, “please don’t leave yet.”  I neglect Him daily.  That’s a fact.  He doesn’t want us to say goodbye though; He wants to be in our lives every minute of every day.  So when I say farewell to Him, He’s asking for a few more minutes, and then a few minutes more.  He’s standing at the gate, waiting for us to let Him in.

God is creative when He speaks.  For me, it’s often through my animals.  I learn about life and love, forgiveness and joy through each of my own and most any others who happen to cross my path.  He uses my passion for Him.  And really, what can be greater than that?

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