Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Joy in (lumpy) green pastures

by Trish Ryan

My husband & I spent the holiday weekend in Maine with family.  My niece has entered that fun phase where she has fallen in love with horses.  So on Sunday, she took me to the barn where she takes lessons to introduce me to some of her new friends.  It was lovely...and smelly...and wonderful.

On the one hand, I was reminded why I never went through the "horses are everything" stage: They're REALLY big, and they scare me.  And they smell!  But before I could declare myself immune to the charms of equestrian life, I met two miniature horses that were totally, unexpectedly delightful:

This is Marble Cake.  She smiles, just like Donkey in Shrek!  I've been mentally clearing space in our apartment for her since the moment I snapped this picture.  

This is my niece feeding Spice Cake, Marble Cake's bigger, bossier buddy.  (I LOVE how my niece is sporting sparkle shorts with her riding boots. SO. MUCH. AWESOME!) Spice Cake is chubby, and I quickly learned why as she shoved Marble Cake out of the way to claim little chunks of carrot from our hands.  (Marble Cake was wise to develop the whole smile thing to counteract this behavior.)  

I learned a lesson as I watched my beloved niece feeding "The Cakes"...how opening my heart to what someone else loves sometimes creates small moments of joy for me, too.  I'm still not big on horses and have no desire to spend time in a barn.  But watching how creative God is (I mean really, what purpose could a grinning miniature horse have on this planet other than to prompt glee?) reminded me that, in the midst of whatever life throws at us, He has little pockets of rest -- sanctuary, green pastures (although in this particular case there was too much poop to lay down in them), and delight -- to refresh us.  That is a real gift.

It felt at bit like I'd walked into the middle of Psalm 23:  The Lord is my shepherd...He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

I'm off to clear out our guest room closet to see if Marble Cake might fit :)

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