Through the Stable Door

Through the Stable Door

Through the Stable Door

If I had a blog, today I would write about what true Independence means to me. In the book The Last Battle, the final book in The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis tells the tale of the last days of the Narnian world. After the final battle, even though good has triumphed over evil, Narnia’s time has come and the planet begins to collapse. Our heroes follow the great lion, Aslan, “further up and further in,”  to a new Narnia; one more beautiful and more “real” than the place they left behind. As they travel, they must pass through a dilapidated stable, the last portal before they enter Lewis’ version of Heaven. Inside the building they find a company of dwarves, huddled in misery, complaining about their lot in life. Aslan creates a banquet before them, but all the dwarves can see is mouldy bread and stale water. The children open the door to the new Narnia, but the dwarves complain about the annoying sounds of revelry and the overpowering sunlight. Try as they might, our heroes cannot get the dwarves to look beyond their self-pity and, in the ends, leave them to their misery, forever trapped in a prison of their own making.

In our own world, we are all guilty of getting lost behind the stable door; so wrapped up in the seduction of self-pity. Some days, nothing feels better than complaining about how we’ve been wronged, passed over, betrayed and short-changed. Harmless as this may seem, there is great danger in “pity-parties,” and the price for this indulgence is our freedom. We can get lost in this dark world of the negative, the ugly, and the hopeless; so lost that when we are at the portal of the Great Beyond, we cannot see the gifts spread at our feet.

So, on this Independence Day, I renew my vow to look for light in the darkness, beauty in the mundane, and hope in the midst of despair. Then, when my time comes to go “further up and further in,” I will be free to pass through The Stable Door.

Sweet Freedom

Our Home on The Greenwood

Our Home on The Greenwood

If I had a blog, today I would write about Freedom – my personal liberation from the shackles of landscaping. Don’t get me wrong, I love our beautiful farm and nothing pleases me more than to see it mowed, manicured, and abloom with wildflowers. I think it is only right to honor one’s home by keeping it beautiful. The thing is, its too big a job for one (or even two) people. In order to keep our lawn, the lawn at our guest house, the barn lot (front and back) and all the side lots and paddocks mowed, I have to mow every single day from mid-April to mid-October and then I have no energy for the things I really love to do. So, in the interest of self-preservation, I have hired a landscaping company to take on the grass for the remainder of the summer. They start Monday and I am now free to get back to my creative exploits.

Rain - My Dearest Friend

Rain – My Dearest Friend

In anticipation of my liberation, I committed a large part of my daily energy budget to working with my horse, Rain. Although I care for Rain every day by bringing her to the barn to rest and munch hay when it is hot outdoors, I haven’t played with her for almost a month and oh! how I have missed my girl. Rain is a big, raw-boned paint mare; one-quarter thoroughbred and three-quarters quarter horse. She is 15-2 hands (that’s 5’2″ at the shoulder) and is as laid back as a horse can be. I don’t ride a lot (a story for another time) but I love working with Rain on the ground. We are in a training program that sets out specific goals for horse and rider so they can work as a team, with the human as the leader. This is important for Rain and me because Rain is the leader of our horse herd and thus thinks of me as a subordinate. As an introvert and empath, I struggle to assert myself and this program is helping both of us find the right place in our relationship. If it sounds like marriage counseling, it very nearly is. Horses are complex creatures and smart, thoughtful, low-energy horses like Rain are a real challenge. As an introvert myself, I know where Rain is coming from, but finding the balance of power isn’t easy when you believe an animal is every bit as sentient as a human being.

Sure, I could make this a lot easier on myself. I could just treat Rain like a mindless piece of property – a motorcycle or ATV – and demand she do my bidding whether she likes it or not, but that isn’t me. I want to earn Rain’s respect so when she obeys me it is because she trusts my judgment implicitly. I want to have a partnership with this amazing creature. I want to learn from her as well as instruct her. There is much she can teach me, I am certain.

I will close with a quote from writer Monica Dickens (the great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens), that sums up my philosophy regarding horses:

“You and your horse. His strength and beauty. Your knowledge and patience and determination and understanding and love. That’s what fuses the two of you onto this marvelous partnership that makes you wonder, ‘What can heaven offer any better then what I have here on earth?'”

To that I reply, “Nothing.  Heaven is a life lived deeply, here on planet Earth, with a horse as your deepest, dearest friend.”