Some of you know from Facebook, a few weeks ago while competing at the National Academy Championship Horse show in TN, our barn family experienced a terrifying few minutes, followed by a tragic loss. A young rider was thrown from her beloved horse as he experienced a bizarre seizure. She fell hard to the ground and he fell even harder. She was rushed to the hospital and we waited and waited to hear back about her leg, her head – as we watched a horse we all love struggle and finally die.
Writing about it brings new tears.
It certainly gave me pause – again. Even after we were told the good news – that the young rider was fine, JUST a concussion, the next time Haven got back up on her favorite horse Apollo, I held my breath.
This sport is dangerous. I am a very cautious parent. She can’t go down the street without me, but I let her up on the back of a thousand pound animal? I monitor her instagram, her texting, her music choices, but I drop her off at a barn for hours on end to groom large animals in tight stalls?
In Fran Sciacca’s book So What’s Your Point (I highly recommend by the way) the last third of his book is about the Fall and subsequent brokenness that entered every cell of the universe. He jokes that it wasn’t just about two naked people getting kicked out of the garden. They may have run out!! When God comes to find them in the garden he finds them hiding – in terror and fear – all the animals they had calmly walked among just minutes before were suddenly killing each other and stalking Adam and Eve – they were trampling the vegetation and tearing it out of the ground, poisoning the waters with their blood and feathers and death.
The brokenness in creation is profound. We see it everywhere – tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes, mudslides. There is chaos in ever layer of our geological record. The brokenness in our persons is undeniable – mental illness, disease, terror organizations, adultery. There is no civilization that has ever existed or ever will who could create utopia, or anything even close to it.
And what about this brokenness between the animals and man? What will it look like when the lion curls up beside us at night and we stroll down the lane with cobras? I don’t know, but I see something of this mysterious reunification when Haven rides.
There is a beautiful synergy, horse and rider – partnership, friendship, mutual respect and love. Not all the time, but sometime I catch a glimpse of this and what it will be on the new earth. Maybe like in Lewis’s A Horse and His Boy, where we ride beautiful horses when they invite us to, and only when we are invited. And when we ride, the horse will take us where he wants us to go, and we will go with him and he will teach us and tell us what he knows of God and the creation.
You can’t know how my heart soars when I see Haven ride – because I know how deeply happy and content she is, because apart from every beautiful thing, she is also learning to work hard, the importance of training and discipline, and the character that learns in defeat and in victory. Because I believe there is something of what was and what is to come in it.
I expect, because of the fallen nature of this world, that she will get hurt. I have to be honest. I can’t hide from the risk. It is there and ever-present and it frightens me beyond words. But we choose to move towards the places where we see glimpses of heaven come down, the kingdom come to earth, even if imperfectly.
I will keep making the drive out to the barn, and help her move toward all the other scary and risky places where we will know God better – riding, driving, dating, marriage, motherhood – terrifying every single one.