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Age: 7 or 8 in 2006    Arrived: February 10, 2006

Grace in the Barn

So just what is grace, really? Is it forgiveness? Is it positive thinking? Is it giving good even when you get bad? Is it expecting good outcomes from your sometimes seemingly useless efforts? Is it thinking the best of people? Is it being receptive and willing to try?

Barb G. says that to her, "grace" is "goodness and strength all in one". I like this. It means someone is strong and steady and good - that picture brings other attributes to my mind. Attributes like reliability. Like dependability. Like someone you would go in to a fox-hole with...

Cheri M. tells me that her definition of "grace" is not giving up. That "grace" is "giving a loving response to someone who has accidentally or purposely injured me with their words. "Grace" is letting go of yesterday's hurts and starting today with new hope."

There. That's what I've been searching for. "Grace" is starting each day with new hope. I nod my head in total agreement and understanding. Each day is a new opportunity to do good. That someone will be better at the end of today because you were in their life today. That you made a difference today.

Each day I begin with a hope and prayer
That today will be safe and good
And that in some way, we will help someone out there.
That calm will prevail; That healing will occur:
That we'll touch someone with a ragged old horse;
That we'll make a difference in someone's life
And be grateful, at the end of this day.

from "At the End of the Day"

Grace Grace, to me, is all of the above. "Grace" is not just a state of mind, it is a lifestyle. It is an inner commitment that constantly challenges me to be kind and understanding and patient. A goal I am woefully falling short of, believe me!

And what does this little pony have to do with my thoughts on "grace"? Let me tell you.

Once again, it is an odd hour when the telephone rings early last Friday morning and once again, I feel the need to answer the call, even though I know the chances are good that it is one of "those" calls.

Another kill buyer is calling to see if I can help him out. He's in a pickle, he says. A couple in northern Wisconsin had decided that they should downsize by one pony. So the kill buyer was called to come and pick up one of their horses.

When he arrives at the people's house, the owner goes out in to the pasture, halters a pony, and walks her in to the trailer. Very simple. No fuss. The pony was most compliant, he said. Upon closing up the trailer, the kill buyer notices that she's kind of "bonging around" in there…and so he asks the owner what the story is.

"She's blind" is the response. The kill buyer explains that he can't take her. He cannot ship her or sell her for kill due to her blindness. The owner's next response? "Not my problem now. She's in your trailer." At which the owner turns and goes back in to his house leaving the little horse in the trailer of a kill buyer who can't take her anywhere.

Hence the kill buyer's call from his cell in the driveway of the pony's owner. Or should I say previous owner??? "Can you help me out?" he asked. "I'm in kind of a pickle here."

You already know my response, don't you? Of course, I proceeded to explain our full status and how I wished I could help. Then the question I was not prepared for came at me - could I keep her while we found a home for her? You see, if the kill buyer put her in the holding pen, the other horses would trample her for sure. Could I just keep her for the weekend?

Well, yes, I had a box stall where she could stay and people could come and look at her... But, I told myself, do NOT touch her, look at her, pet her, or name her, for crying out loud! Don't even think about the 3 Promises!

Grace She arrived and I marveled at the itty bitty-ness of her. She was a touch taller than a mini, but longer in body and very petite...and completely blind...mane a twisted mess...hooves way too long but in solid shape...a thin but not emaciated body...and trust just oozing out of her.

She walked right behind you - not having a clue where she was or where you were taking her. She would pause and tilt her head to listen to the others...she knew there were horses around...she would smell you, the ground, the air...trying to acclimate herself and find something - anything - that was familiar.

There was no pulling pushing or biting. There was no fuss. Even sighted horses typically give more of a reaction to their arrival than she was giving... This little girl was pure and honest trust.

I had already placed several telephone calls to prospective new owners for this pony. And many of the calls were returned later in the day. No one was coming today to look at her. But maybe they would stop by on Saturday.

I spent a good part of the evening in the old barn watching her. I was most intrigued by her. She is calm. Alert. Curious. She stands quietly with no twitching or nervousness at all. Somehow, she appears to feel at home. Very aware. And very hungry. By 9pm, she has a very full tummy and is worn out and curled up in a tight little ball, deep in sleep. I whisper "sweet dreams" to this unnamed little creature and go in for the night. All the time shaking my head and marveling at the calmness of her. The serenity that came in to the barn with her. And is rubbing off on me. This little girl has an aura about her, I think.

In the early hours of morning when my mind was awakening and well before my eyes were opened, the thought is in my head as clear as any thought has ever been. Her name is Grace. What? Don't do this! Do not name her!

Her name is Grace.

It's very simple.

She is Grace in the Barn.

She is the hope of a new day. She is forgiving when someone does you poorly. She is the opposite of hatred. She is giving goodness and kindness. She is strength. She is forgiveness and trust. She is the opposite of aggression. She is positive thinking and expecting of good things to come her way. Yes, indeed. Her name is Grace.

I struggle to find the words to tell you of the peace she brings. She is just a tiny little pony. But she is calm and willing and trusting and looking only for a friend. She is my example of what grace looks like. Oh, the bonfire talks we will have about grace...all because of her! Once again, I have been given a piece of the picture that was missing - even though I had no idea I was incomplete!! Once again, without even knowing it, a need was fulfilled. Now I not only have a Faith Bucket in the barn - I have Grace in the Barn, too!

I'll close with a message from Gayle A. about her definition of "grace". Please clear your mind and read her words. They cause me to think, really think, every time I read them. And Gayle's words are, in fact, this little pony, Grace, put in to words.

Read the paragraph from Gayle and then think of what "grace" is to you. Read the paragraph and then try to be graceful just today - not forever - just for a single day. And then maybe try to be graceful again tomorrow. Read the paragraph and then be jealous me. Lucky me. Surrounded by grace-givers like Gayle and Barb and Cheri and a whole host of others. Women who live graceful lives. Women who know and practice "grace". Lucky, lucky me!

"When you accept everything the universe dumps on you, from the "raw" to the "sugar coated", and deal compassionately with it, doing the best you know how to do, asking, and delegating, and pulling everyone else you can in to the compassionate response, that is a "state of grace". I would call the decision to act with compassion one "origin point of the ripple effect". The degree to which that ripple spreads is the profound incomprehensibility of the state of grace. Should everyone "live" it, the intermeshing strands rippling around the world would provide the strongest safety net ever known. Freely given compassionate love would be the sole basis for all action. Awesome."

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