The horse slowly turned, walked away, reached the center of the corral, and turned back to face me. His front legs buckled, then his rear legs folded, then he was resting on his knees and watching me out of brown eyes that no longer seemed wild but calm, gentle, wise instead.
I glanced at my counselor and her colleague, who gestured that it was okay to approach the horse. So I did. Awed, almost reverent.
I crouched next to him in the straw. I rubbed his nose and his neck and his shoulder. And the image that came into my head as I touched him, cheesy as it might sound, was of a girl in a forest glade with a unicorn: sunbeams filtering through green leaves, a stream tumbling along nearby, and this majestic beast suffering itself to be touched by a scared little girl who needed reassurance and comfort and hope and to know she was special.
Those moments were magical. Not just for me but for my counselor, who later told me she was crying so hard she couldn’t speak, because in seven years of knowing that horse, she had never seen him behave that way.
I don’t know how long we sat in the middle of the corral, the horse and I. I stopped being scared and instead felt honored, cherished, protected. I’m struggling now to describe that encounter, to try to wrap some words around how special it was, but as I recall it all I can do is cry. Good tears.
After awhile, the horse got back up and I spooked a little, I admit. Because while we’d had this almost mystical communion, he was still a horse and he was still enormous. I was reminded of how the characters in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe talk about Aslan: He’s not safe; he’s not tame; but he’s good. You’re scared of him because you have to be, because that level of power and incomprehensibility inspires fear and awe, but you know he won’t hurt you because he’s good.
And for a few minutes, the horse had enfolded me in that goodness; he had let go his fierceness and his size and had gotten down on the ground where I could approach him without threat from those powerful legs and sharp hooves. He had made himself into a creature I could love rather than being terrified by.
It does not matter what you have done or what has been done to you. Jesus sees you as a wonderful masterpiece. After all, you come from a bloodline of royalty. -Jentezen Franklin, Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt, 85
I have held to that moment, that sense of myself, often over the past months. As other people’s actions have caused me to question my worth and value, I have remembered how that horse trusted me and showed me I could trust him. How he gave me a gift he had never given to anyone else. How special I felt because of that.
I have struggled a lot, as I think most people do, with how I see myself, who I am, how I define myself and let others define me. So much of how we present ourselves to the world is based on things that are fairly extraneous: what we do for a living, what we have, even who we are in relation to other people. And, too often, in the ways we feel we are damaged or wounded or less than others.