January 18, 2007

Crunchy snow, sky so blue it doesn’t quite look real and the mountains off in the distance gleaming with a new blanket. The weather was balmy 36 in the sun and 25 in the shade. It was me, acres of juniper trees and a snippy little Arab mare.

All alone. It was pure bliss.

I was transported back to when I was little girl and I would throw a bridle on that stupid appaloosa, April, and fly through snow drifts. You don’t ride on a saddle in the winter, or so I used to believe. Why put your ass on a cold saddle when you could be sitting on a toasty horse?

But then I found out riding bareback, doing figure eights in 2′ of snow is actually even more stupid. Did you know that when a 1300 pound horse falls on your foot that it will crush bones? That sort of goes without saying if you stop and think about it.

I didn’t. I fell off. Technically was squished. I hate admitting to getting thrown. She fell. I landed under her. She tossed her pretty little head and galloped off to the warmth of the barn and a pile of hay. I laid there in the snow and thought. “I’m an idiot.”

Of course, I was 11 and critical thought didn’t actually mature in my process until my mid-20’s. So I crawled 1/2 a mile in 2′ of snow. December in Montana.

But it’s all good. After the bones healed I learned that I now could buy shoes in 2 different sizes! 1/2 a size donated to one clear afternoon in December and a couple of badly executed figure eights.

The ride the other day was much smarter. I put a saddle on her and avoided the snow drifts. Although we did jump a few logs. *Shh don’t tell the Mr. I refuse to wear a helmet. Makes me feel like a freakin’ retard.***

When I go riding my life gets very simple. Just breathing. In and out. Horse sneezes and looking for gopher holes. Keep my balance. Look straight ahead.

I find my center. I remember who I am. Who I was created to be before the Mr, the mission and the busy adult life. That part of us that simply lives hidden under the surface. Quiet until we get still enough to hear the whisper. I find Her when I play random chords and find a melody in some minor key that I’ve never heard before.

Maybe you find the deep and secret you when you write, when you paint, when you fix cars.

I’m not talking about your selfish sin nature. We all know that’s something to beat into submission. I’m speaking of the simple you. The one without the frills and the crutches. The one who doesn’t compensate or become defensive. The solid You at the core of who you are. No matter where you are.

When I’m comfortable there I can hear the whispers of G-d cutting through the haze of complicated situations. I can feel the brush of His fingers in the softness of the breeze.

I don’t need a horse. I don’t need really wonderful trails. I don’t need blue skies and white covered mountains in the distance.

He knew I would find peace there and He blessed me beyond my own ability to provide for myself. So on Monday I dropped the reins, put my hands in my pockets, closed my eyes and thanked Him for all He does to restore and refresh me.

When I was 9 I rode alone to escape. When I was 15 I rode alone because there was no one who would ride with me. At 32 I ride alone because I have an appointment with peace and I can’t afford to miss it.