Expression of the Divine, Part 2: Surrogate Messenger


photo by Chandra Smith

The following story took place shortly before Tal developed the full blown case of sore feet I spoke of in the prior post. There were hints of it, however. This is a backdrop for all that happened from this point forward.

A tenderness washes over me, tears mist my eyes and heart. This big brute of a horse, awkward in his movements, loved by humans but tolerated by his kind, what some would call the fat kid on the block that nobody likes, reached deeply into my heart tonight and awakened a sleeping beauty that I didn’t understand at the time but would experience its unfolding over the weeks ahead.

He met me literally and figuratively at the stall door after a stubborn encounter on both of our parts earlier in the day in that very stall.  I wanted him out, he wanted to stay in. I made it a challenge when my authoritarian side reared up. He reacted by planting his four feet solidly in place. He finally went out, but I knew he’d chosen it out of his good will, and not because there was anything I did properly or deservedly.

Tonight, hours later, he paused humbly and forgivingly in the doorway that I had just reopened, and reached out to me with his soft muzzle. He stood still, not entering the stall even though memories of leftover food beckoned to him.

He took his time with me and became a bigger-than-life “fatherly” being, this horse I call our shaman. For those few moments standing next to him, I felt pleasingly small and like a child in a mythological story. He leaned down and asked, “Will you let me take your writer’s block?” Little did I realize what his question had, at that very moment, implanted in my soul.

This horse with a finesse I’d never experienced from him,… or allowed from him, gently opened my heart and took me to the core of my roadblock before I had time to resist. I’d been blocked by the “blockage” itself, subtly believing I had to overcome it myself in order for Tal’s hooves to heal.

“Yes,” I whisper back to him. And felt a spontaneous sigh of relief that the roadblock itself could be surrendered. I had arrived at the core. I didn’t even have to figure it out. In my diligence to conquer, I had forgotten, and was trying to fix myself so the horses in turn would be fixed. I was meeting with constant failure. This was a subtle way of seeing them as needy rather than as powerful spiritual beings. All I had to do in this case with Tal was to receive the spiritual gifts he had to offer by his very presence as a surrogate messenger of the divine. It brought a harmonious melody to my soul. I felt a delightful wonder at what adventure awaited.

Then the doubts crept in like arrogant thieves in broad daylight. I saw them but was powerless to confront them, feeling like I’d been tied and gagged. This concept coming from a horse challenged my religious upbringing at least so it seemed, but as I went deeper, I realized it was also sounding too religious and that made me nervous. I began to think I’d made the whole thing up and left it to simmer on the back of the old woodstove.

But the thieves were too late; the ropes were unraveling. New experiences were already seeping in through the cracks of my mental programming and resistances. The process had started and was not to be stopped.

“There is no use in trying,” said Alice,”I cannot believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” –Lewis Carroll from Alice in Wonderland

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