Last week I had a bit of a Christmas rant (read) and declared I would celebrate Thanksgiving until New Years. I feel better already.
I followed with, “And if thanksgiving is my religion, then the barn will be my church.”
I know I run the danger of offending a wide range of religious and spiritual opinion with a phrase like Barn/Church. I gave this notion some prayerful meditation- (thought about it while I was mucking) and folks have been spiritual since before churches had walls- physical location shouldn’t matter. And I never see unconditional love demonstrated by people nearly as well as dogs do it, so including animals seems smart.
Barn/Church is a place more like Noah’s ark than Notre Dame.
Barn/Church, Part Two: The Ride.
Last week the Barn/Church service began with the act of grooming. Continuing the analogy- the sermon comes next and in the barn, that would be the ride.
(Does the word sermon evoke heavy eyelids and a yawn? Does the very word create resistance? Kind of like harsh judgement kills the joy of a ride?)
A good sermon should lift us above the daily struggle and remind us that a greater reality exists. (Like a good ride does.)
The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears. ~Arabian Proverb
I notice it is a lot easier to love horses than to ride them!
Riding is deceptive in its simplicity; we know that feeling of being lifted and held in a sacred place. We know the view between the ears, the lightness of being. A glimpse of this corner of heaven leaves a rider hungry for more and that is where the trouble begins.
Sometimes we ride with a hell fire and brimstone force of will; perfectionists demanding the right answers immediately, with punishment ready for marginal efforts from our horses. No excuses. (These horses come to barn/church but are never very happy about being there.)
Sometimes we ride with a deep feeling we are somehow unworthy and destined to suffer and wail forever. We are inconsistent and unclear partners, filled with confusion and longing. (These horses would rather be delinquents creating havoc, than be in detention in our sad barn/church.)
Sometimes we ride with a happy seat, aware we are in the perfect place- on a horse. (Thanks.) We are learning trust and confidence and of course, humility. (More thanks.) The quality of the ride defines the destination- so we are warm and welcoming. Rewarding the good work and patiently chipping away on the less-than-good work; obstacles are opportunities to shine. (Thanks again- these horses love barn/church.)
There is always a choice about how we approach riding. Respect and commitment mixed with patience and gratitude turn out a great horse. And that horse reflects who we are as riders, and ultimately, who we are as humans.
My best teachers are horses. Maybe Barn/Church is just real life- disguised to attract horse-crazy girls. That works and thank you VERY much.
Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.