I had spent all day feeling frustrated, but I knew there was more to it than that. I could sense it. But I couldn't quite get a grasp of the feelings, which seemed to range from fear, to anger, then to sadness, but mostly what felt like resistance to "the way it is" and a discomfort with the unknown.
My beloved Appaloosa gelding Domino had had a colic episode the night before and despite my attempts to "stay positive" and to remind myself that the feelings that it triggered probably had more to do with a previous loss than his illness being an imminent one, I couldn't seem to "get my head right" and was getting down on myself.
Earlier that day, in my moving mindfulness practice, I felt a heaviness in my heart that I didn't really want to be with, breathe with, but I did. And when I did the memories came of the day and a series of events leading up to another death due to colic.
Tiffie's death meant the loss of my equine-assisted therapy dream team, an orphaned foal, and a broken heart - mine. All deaths are hard, but her's was traumatic. And I could feel that morning the subtle remnants, the unresolved nuance of feelings that I still had not released. I let myself feel and grieve for awhile, reached out for support, but went through the day, still on edge - looking out the window to check on my fella, watching for subtle signs of discomfort, administering his herbal colic formula, and taking five gallon buckets of water sweetened with molasses to encourage him to drink and keep his system flushed.
Towards the end of the day, after his second bucket of water, I watched him walk over to a cinder block turned upright like a stool and just stand there. So I went over to him and because my back was tired I sat down on the cinder block and that's when it happened: I decided to do what I do with my clients. I softened my gaze, sometimes closing my eyes completely, noticed my breathing, felt my feet on the ground, and scanned my body,
I noticed a tightening in my upper chest and I just be'd with it - and breathed and felt my feet. Soon my teeth started chattering, and I allowed what felt like fear to move through my body: which it did with yawn after yawn between periods of teeth chattering.
Sometime during this process, Secret, Tiffie's orphan, came over and stood so close that the side of her face, her cheek and sometimes her muzzle, were touching my face. A few times she intentionally positioned her eye less than an inch from, pretty much touching, mine. Sometimes she would shift her weight slightly and then Domino's muzzle would be on my cheek. At some point the teeth chattering turned into sobs as I crumbled under their relentless compassion and presence.
I don't know how much time passed. We were immersed in some sort of timeless reality. All the while I cried, chest-shaking cries as I remembered Tiffie, telling her how sorry I was that I couldn't stop it - couldn't stop what was happening to her and the disease process in her body. And I wondered if the horses and I were grieving together. But the horses' grief seemed more like sadness for me - a recognition of how I'd been holding on, punishing myself, not consciously of course, but on some level. And when the sobs broke with my own awareness of this, everything stopped. All was quiet.
Secret casually walked away. Domino followed. Their job was done. And I watched in awe as they gently ate grass, looking so peaceful. And I looked at the gelding. And I noticed that the weight in my chest was gone. The edgy "What's going to happen next?," "Is he ok?," "Does he need more water?," was also gone.
And a golden setting sun broke through the clouds to make an unearthly light against the trees on the mountain and the green, green pasture where they ate. And a strange breeze lifted what had been heavy humid air and I knew at once that things were different: we had somehow altered the course of something.
Of course I don't know what. Intellectually I know he could die from colic next week or next year, but somehow, someway, things were different. Our shift in emotional energy had created a shift in the wave of possibilities. Again, I don't know how, but could feel it. And I bathed in the peace of that knowing and for the first time in days, I felt glad.
My body it seems, can tolerate a mystery. In fact, it loves, it marvels, it excels in the unknown. It is at one with the mystery of life because its ebb and flow and moving current, and the space within and moving through it, is the same as the ebb and flow, the wave and the space, of everything.
And as I felt my body, I felt the everything. And I was home.
And the rain came down and washed us clean.
Heaven On Earth Farm
Specific directions provided upon scheduling or registration.
P.O. Box 1233
Pickens, SC 29671