Among the kaleidoscope of experiences and emotions experienced on our "Literature and The Landscape of the Horse" retreat, there is one image that hovers just outside my conscious mind as I go through the every day tasks and demands upon returning to what serves as my "real life" currently.
Like every other human at the ranch on our retreat, whether guest, facilitator or wrangler, none of us could get enough of the horses. I fell in love with my horse partner, Stormy (Smokey) as well as with many of the beloved horses in the Vee Bar herd. How I loved to watch them in their ferocious runs to and from the barn both morning and evening. How I cherished our free time to groom and love on our horses. How I loved watching them in the pasture or in the holding pen, observing horses being horses.
Since our partner horses retreated to the pasture each evening; after dinner, my best friend/sister, Gwen and I would get "itchy" to have horse contact. So in her generosity, Sheri, permitted us to visit, treat, scratch, kiss, bless and generally just love all over her two glorious horses, Diego and Trip, whom she had brought with her from Moab and who would spend their nights in a very accessible paddock.
Both these horses have distinct personalities and are beautiful and intelligent as well as well-mannered. But the white Arabian, Trip, had caught my eye and ear :) from Day 1 when, not allowed to go on trail or participate in certain events due to health issues, he would protest loudly with unending whinnying while tossing his glorious mane, exhibiting many facial expressions clearly engineered to evoke our sympathy at his "plight" and generally prancing about creating a new exquisite sculpture with each position. He " had me at hello" or, in his case, at "neeeeiiiiiiggghhhh!!!!"
During our evening visits with him, he was sweet, tender, affectionate and so very funny. It always caught me by surprise that this creature of wonder and beauty could also come down to earth to lick our hands and cheeks, nuzzle and play.
Overarching our times with him was always the awareness that he could lose one of his perfect eyes due to melanoma and that melanoma growths were black and hideous under his tail. Sheri with her faith, knowledge and experience, is, I know, going to pull him back to perfect health with acupuncture, herbs and homeopathy, but still, as a slowly throbbing ostinato under the soaring violin of his Arabian glory...his illness weighed on and still weighs on our hearts.
Yet, in spite of all corporeal and earthly things in his AND our paths, he left me with an image that will haunt me until my own end of days...
... Earlier that day, Gwen, being given an eagle feather as a gift and, being Native American, lawfully permitted to retain that gift, used her feather to bless Trip all over his body and especially on his diseased eye. She murmured words, perhaps in English or in Navajo, I wasn't sure...all I knew is that Trip absorbed every bit of that blessing. That evening while playing with him and Diego, we hardly noticed as darkness fell...
Then it happened. In a moment that could have been one second or one hour, I looked up at Trip as he stood still with moonlight upon his white being, looking as though the moonlight emanated from inside of him outward to reflect off our faces. Just above his head was a single star. This star looked as though it was crowning his superb head in extraterrestrial light. Then, in a moment, his whole head was surrounded by a diadem of stars. I was instantly aware that this being, here on earth known as Trip, was an eternal spirit being made of starlight, moonlight, sky, earth and forever-ness. As are we all. And in that timeless moment...all was calm, all was bright...