We never know what's going to happen. We never know when some out-of-the-blue, stressful, terrible thing will shock us out of our perceived version of reality.
Reality is not what we think it is anyway - as I've come to find out. And this was made even more obvious in the wake of a bizarre accident involving one of my horses.
Sonny, my ancient, arthritic mare didn't show up for her dinner last Wednesday night. This wasn't terribly shocking since she sometimes lags behind the other horse. And frankly, at her age, I half expect to find her down, perhaps on death's door, perhaps already gone from heart failure or something. But nothing prepared me for the scene I came upon when I went to look for her.
She had fallen into a deep gully at one of the side creeks. She was mostly on her back, and had wedged herself in the hole between a tree and a concrete culvert pipe designed to route the water under a land bridge in the pasture.
In quiet shock I heard myself say, "Sonny, what have you done?" and I reached down to try to calm her, my other hand shaking as I started calling anybody and everybody I could think of.
One of my neighbors arrived with his Navy Seal son, with a sling and a big-ass truck, and immersed himself in the mud and poison ivy to try to get the harness straps underneath and around her body to pull her out safely with the truck.
It was like a dream - the three of us and Sonny - in the dark by this time. Thoughts were thunk. Feelings were being felt, and sometimes words were spoken. But mostly it seemed like Life was just happening - crazy, unpredictable life - moving through us all with ideas and courage, frustration and calm, gentleness and fear, determination and surrender.
I don't remember how many hours passed of repositioning and pulling and readjusting again before Life happened with an idea to reposition the sling and re-angle the truck and with a "Go! Go! Go!," Life pulled her out and she lay there - quiet, motionless - and us waiting - relieved, but still in uncertain suspense. Was she exhausted? Was she dying?
Then Life called the vet, who had been en route, who guided us with suggestions based on Sonny's breathing and gum color. While the men stayed with her, I ran to the house to fetch what the vet had suggested and then Life called and said "She's up!" and me, "What? Are you serious?"
And there she was, standing in the dark with her savior, and the sling (the kind he used to make for a living) gently looped around her neck to keep her from leaving before the vet arrived. "Sixteen minutes," she said.
It was after eleven o'clock and Life as the savior said," Sorry Shelly. I have to go. I have to get up to catch a plane in four hours. You OK 'til the vet gets here?" "Please go," I said, and hugged them both, speechless.
The vet who arrived couldn't believe what she saw: Sonny, on her feet, calmly eating grass - lungs clear, heart rate a little high, but to be expected, gut sounds good, gum color good, minor cuts, nothing broken. A shot of steroids and, "I really didn't think this would be the outcome tonight," said Life as the vet. "I didn't either," I said. And we both knew what we meant.
And in the quiet shock and awe of a moonless night, the two of us made her comfortable in a corral with her buddy so I could monitor her overnight.
Life made love to me that night and in the days that followed. Normally shy and standoff-ish Sonny welcomed my strokes and words of reassurance. Texts from my friend, wife of the savior, "He's texting from the airport. 'How is Sonny?'" The other vet, the one who couldn't come, (tending a crisis with a much different outcome) responding to the picture I”d sent per her trouble-shooting request, "How is she?" "She's stable," I said. "On her feet." "What? OMG! Are you kidding me? A miracle!" And a partner who listened, all the next day and the day after that, as the adrenaline triggered an energy that was so old and seemingly unrelated, but wasn't.
Because it's all energy isn't it? It's all Life - life moving, life happening, as energy. We're inclined to call it good or horrible or bad or lucky. And yet Life doesn't see it that way. Life doesn't see it at all. Life is just doing what Life does.
And in the wake of the trauma, amidst the what if's and what almost happened and how to prevent it in the future, came the breakthrough.
Life broke through this human-resistant heart - its resistance to what is, what was, what might be. Resistance to feelings of shock and helplessness and a tendency to partly leave this dimension when it all gets too hard.
Life broke through any semblance of anything Shelly could do to try to harness or control the explosive, chaotic, ever-changing, unpredictable energy we call Life, blowing Shelly to bits, leaving only Life, seeing Itself as Life, inseparable from all Life - the eternal space, the eternal Is-ness, the only reality, home.
Thank you Life.
Thank you Sonny.
P.S. As of this writing, Sonny is doing well: back to trudging up and down the big hill, carefully picking her way through the deep mud at creek crossings, and making nasty, mare-ish faces at her buddy - just because.