It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This morning I began a sweet walking-meditation. Having reached the crest of a hill, I decided against a longer walk to the lakefront, turning instead to continue the contemplation all the way back down the narrow trail. But my meditation was soon interrupted.
Ahead, some thirty paces below me on the trail, I saw a moderate commotion just under the brim of my hat and heard the "Phrrrr! Phrrrr! Phrrr!" of a horse coming up the trail. I looked to see a large palomino flustered, thrashing this side to that on the narrow pathway ahead of me. His rider, a lean strong-looking woman, was managing the horse, but with visible effort.
I tried to see which side the woman and horse were going to take. I would move to the other side. But weaving and thrashing as they were, it was unclear. They were quickly getting closer. Should I stand towards the shrubs and get pushed off into who knows what? Or stand towards the street and take my chances with the rail and traffic speeding up the hill? Decision time. I opted for the shrubs.
I braced myself and stood steady as the agitated horse and his rider approached. Raising my hand slowly, I took off my sunglasses, then my hat, resting it in front of my chest, slowly lowering it to my thigh. I didn't square off with the animal as a predator would, but let it get a good look at me as I turned slightly sideways, like a deer, a fellow prey animal. Wouldn't you know, just steps in front of me the horse calmed right down.
"Good morning?" the woman said. "How are you?"
"Hiya," I replied. "I'm fine. How are you two?"As the horse went by, my eyes met with his gaze. Its whole demeanor was calm, curious, soft by by this time--all so sweet.
"We're fine now. Thank you very much for knowing what to do."
Truth be told, I didn't know, just sort of figured it out. Anyway, I looked up to see the woman's great big smile. "Have a good day she said," and off they went, two ponytails of the same color casually wisping up the trail.
I once saw a young girl slapping and pushing a horse this way and that on her first meeting with the animal. The horse pushed her back, only harder. After she bounced off the wall a few times, she opted to work with another animal. Great, that left me to work with this now agitated critter. So I introduced myself, breathing softly towards her nostrils. I had read about it in a book by a woman who was writing about horses and their behaviors before the horse whisperer and others became popular. I did not move to touch the horse until she moved into me. Then I leaned into her side with my hands and my shoulder. She didn't resist or push, but "gave," absorbing my energy and supporting me, moving very dance-like where I needed her to be.
I told my father about the incident later and he said the girl was obviously scared. He went on to tell me, "When people are rough that way with large animals, trying to show them who's boss without even taking time to sense where the horse is coming from, they're afraid. A horse won't mind if you're afraid. But if you are and you try to bully it, it's going to think you're stupid, or a pest with bad manners, and it's not going to cut you any slack."
At the bottom of the trail I met many pilgrims of Indian descent, dressed all in white and having a graceful morning walk, the bright linens and silks of their garments looking like veils in the breeze. Three men were in front. I smiled at them. They broadly smiled back, their beautiful teeth glistening ivory in the sun. To the women I said, "Morning," and they cheerfully piped up, reminding me of when I was teaching and would come upon a group of students, "Good morning! Good morning! Good morning!" they said, eight good mornings, eight blessings to carry with me on my way.
For your journal/discussion:
1. Tell about a time when you were afraid, and weren't sure what to do? What happened? How did it work out?
2. How is it that the heart sometimes knows more than we do?
3. What blessings have you discovered on your pathway recently? How might you attend more, to be more aware of the gifts and sweet encounters before you?