It’s been a year already since he laid his big strong body down and how do 365 days go by seeming like it’s been both just a week and a lifetime?
I started a list on my iPhone of all the things that went haywire beginning with the day my old truck quit running.
It was going to be the list that reminded me how strong our family was and how gracefully we overcame adversity.
Then the pony died that spring Monday morning, and I realized that life can sometimes knock a gal out at the knees and that keeping track of adversity wasn’t as important as I thought it was.
That gracefulness comes quietly in the fight and isn’t something that can be measured.
Because it all just kept coming and since the Garden, isn’t that what life really is anyway?
One big adversity?
One long, unmeasurable struggle.
Those you thought were your friends betray you.
Those you know are your friends face death straight in the face.
Your body quits working as it should and life as you know it is altered by silent sickness.
Neighbors are not neighborly.
The peaceful plans you dream of and hope for and pray over are riddled with twists and turns and paths that keep you pining for the flatter trail that doesn’t trip you up.
The news brings heartache daily til the day it all seems the same.
A planet aching.
The day last month that my big little horse started limping, I did what I’ve done every time one of the minis has gotten any little ailment these past twelve months.
I worried and I fret and I flashed back to the cold nights in the barn when we willed our big boy to keep standing and keep fighting in those hours before we knew he’d given us his all and had to finally lie down and leave us.
It’s a year later and the same time of the month that he got sick when our mini starts to slow down and look uncomfortable. It must be the season. It must be something about our farm in the spring.
It must be something I’m doing wrong and I worry as I go to a boring meeting and remember the boring meeting I was sitting in last year when my daughter called to get me coming home to her and her very sick pony.
He was a horse not a person but I will always grieve the loss of him like I would a best friend or a member of this family.
Because he was.
It was our first time losing a horse and the pain of it was enough to make me think of letting my other two go to another farm so we’d never have to deal with that kind of loss ever again.
That thought was short-lived because I know they belong with us and they belong together, but as I watch my mini’s coat dull and I take the weight tape to her and see she’s dropped fifteen pounds, it makes me choke back a sob as I think of our big pony standing noble and quiet in the barn last year with his dull coat and thin neck.
A whole year feels like yesterday when I start calling the people I know to call and text video clips of my little horse limping, and as soon as he’s back in town, my farrier is here to trim up her feet and he reminds me yet again that I shouldn’t worry so, that this horse came to us with a condition that will always cause her to have troublesome feet in cold weather and the changing of seasons.
He reminds me that I’ll always have to watch her sugar intake and that the good nourishment I was giving her to help her weight and her coat might be too much, and that cutting back just a little will tell me for sure.
And he reminds me gently that this horse isn’t the same horse as the horse we lost.
That every ailment isn’t worst case scenario.
That even though my mind and my heart go back to the loss, this horse won’t die from sore feet.
That the love on our farm is big and goes a long way toward keeping our animals healthy and me and the kids learning.
He reminds me how much we love.
Struggles will come but love covers a multitude, and it is patient and it is kind, and it protects and trusts and hopes, and it always, always perseveres.
I quit making a list this year and instead made myself persevere.
Made myself love.
God knows my faith has been quiet but that it is strong and it is persevering.
Have you been quiet in your faith?
Have you had doubts? Struggles? Adversity?
He knows when our love is true and trusting and even though it may not be loud, He knows when it is there.
A trauma, a loss, a year of battles one after another can knock out strong knees, but on our knees is best because He so loved the world, He so loved me and He so loved you, and love will.never.fail.
The disappointments of yesterday melt in the face of the love that dwells in the rough-hewn wood of this strong house.
The crushing weight of sorrow for friends fighting a too-hard war lightens as they raise their hands to glory and love all they touch.
The unending pain of the planet and her people are held, because in Him all things hold together.
My little horse began to move smoother after her foot trim, and as the sun came out and spring moved onto our farm, I’d see her napping on all fours instead of lying down to get off her feet.
Her head would bob and her top lip quiver as she soaked up the fresh air and healing rays of sunshine after our long cold winter.
She wasn’t going to die like our pony did.
And today, the exact day he left us last year, I pulled my little gal out and marveled at how much better she was looking.
I smiled at her yellow-white mane and tail as she walked across the yard, a happy sparkle in her eye as she tried to find just one green blade of grass.
I thought of how much I love these little horses and how much we’ve gone through on the farm this year.
How much those close to us have endured.
How much our world has changed.
How much we are loved in the midst of it all.
And as I was watching her walk beside my daughter, my girl who said goodbye to her best equine friend too soon exactly one year ago, a peace washed over me that assured me that not only was my little horse going to be fine but so was everything else.
Those things I can control…those things I can’t…those battles friends fight…those injustices that plague so many…
Because He said it…because He loves…
We are assured that even in the evils and the sadness and the pain He will never leave us.
He will take the quiet faith, the wavering faith, the tentative faith, and He will grow it louder and steadier and surer, whether through sunny seasons or through sorrow seasons.
My peace grew strong and I thought of our pony gone a year, and I tucked up his memory into my heart once again where it now always lives, and I watch my girl walk my big mini back toward the pen.
And just before she got there, our little red pony hopped a little hop on her once-sore feet and she kicked up her heels and she tossed her mane…
And then she started to trot.
In memory of all the ponies and all the horses who have left this earth too soon. Your trust and service and faithfulness are twisted up into the hearts of the many who have loved you and will miss you all the days of their lives.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 7:8-10