The Comings and The Goings
One of my most favorite people in the world is my ophthalmologist. When I recently commented to him that I'm getting older and so I now needed reading glasses, he quickly corrected me and informed me that, "No, Sandy, you are not getting older. You are getting wiser." Ya gotta love that man!
So with the passing of time and with my newfound wisdom, I am starting to see a pattern and a cycle to our world at Refuge Farms. It is the pattern of life. And it doesn't surprise me that the notion of this cycle comes to me at springtime. It is a cycle of rebirth - almost. I call this cycle "The Comings and The Goings."
I could recite for you date upon date upon date of new minister arrivals in to our barns - each arrival with it's own joy and exuberance, a new one to love, a new one to treasure. We have a poem on our Web site and it talks about the new arrival:
At the End of the Day
A new one comes! What joy! We all smile!
Is it a mare? A gelding? Is it big or is it small?
Can it walk? Is it lame? Is it short or is it tall?
Can it eat? Is it starved? Can we brush it? Can we get close?
Most of all, I ask, can we heal it? Can we help it?
How could it have gotten this way?
I am grateful - although a bit worried - with this new one
But I am calm due to faith, at the end of the day.
So we celebrate the comings. And then I wait quietly and anxiously for the going.
You see, back when I started this mission, I didn't have a clue. Back then I never had even the slightest thought that the arrival of a new minister horse would be the signal of an impending crossing of one of the existing herd. How innocent I was! But life lessons - and time - have since caused me to see the cycle and appreciate the value of life.
The Comings and The Goings
Big Guy arrived at Refuge Farms on Nov. 12, 2004. And Jerry, the Roan Horse crossed on Nov. 23, 2004 - just eleven days after Big Guy arrived, just long enough for Jerry to assess the "new man's" abilities to be the monster lead horse and to teach him a few of the necessary skills needed for that position, just long enough for Jerry to be comfortable that we were all in the good cares of Big Guy, and so it was OK and clear then, for him to cross. And so Jerry did just that, but only after insuring his role was assumed by this new, yet capable, member of The Herd.
And our little Halima arrived on March 19, 2004 so very thin and sickly and shivering in the cold. My natural reaction was to place her with the best mom I knew - Ima.
Ima, the mare, had nurtured her newborn foal and protected her even though her own body was infected with maggots and unable to produce the milk her new baby so desperately needed. Even though her legs could barely support her, this mare stood over her baby and shielded her from the sun. And when Ima was given the chance for food and water, she refused the very nutrition her body was starved for because it would mean leaving her baby.
So Halima was partnered with Ima and Ima taught this little mare where to find food, where to find the water, and where to stand to avoid those northerly winds. Ima had insured that pony, and accepted Halima, too, in those first few days.
And then, a mere four days later, Ima herself crossed - comfortable that she had transferred her expertise to this little new member and knowing that Halima was safe and comfortable that Halima would assume her role as the new lead mare of that little herd.
The cycle of life teaches big, valuable lessons
I see this cycle of life with The "Other Herd," too. I see volunteers arrive and assume roles and build fast, strong relationships. And then I see volunteers move on - they move, literally. They go to California to develop their careers or they move to Alabama to be with family. But they move on. They go. As do the horses. And they go, too, with the knowledge that another member of The "Other Herd" will pick up their duties and responsibilities and will carry on our missions. They, too, spend time turning over and training and transitioning. They, too, move on knowing that capable and willing hands will take over.
These comings and these goings are not without their joys and laughter and hugs and smiles. And, of course, they are also not without their tears and sorrows and longings. They come - both of them - and we celebrate and begin new lives together. They go - both of them - and we often speak of them and maybe cry a bit, just longing for their presence one more time.
But the comings and the goings go on. The cycle continues - forever. It is the cycle of life. It's the natural process of things.
Springtime causes me to pause and rejoice in that cycle of life. In my wisdom, I envision someone taking up my role when it's time to move on and I only hope that, like Jerry and Ima, I will have time to transition and teach that person.
And what is it that I will teach them? I will teach them that the missions of Refuge Farms are what are important, not the paperwork or the barn work or the yard work. It's the heart work that is what matters: "Heal, Forgive, Respect, Love, Trust. These are the missions of Refuge Farms. These are the heart works that are the most important. These are the lessons passed on as one spirit moves on with the new spirit filling in right behind them.
The comings and the goings. They are only natural.
And in it's cycle, life teaches us big, valuable lessons. Those lessons that we learn that can make us better human beings - lessons that we can learn from the horses of Refuge Farms.
Enjoy the journey of each and every day,
Sandy and The Herd