It is cold, bitterly cold, the kind of cold that freezes your eyelashes and makes breathing, walking, and chores painfully exhausting. We find ourselves wanting to rush, to hurry and get things done so we can get inside. The snow is starting to fall, walking is a struggle and we fluctuate between slipping on the ice or plowing through the snow. I’ve got my scarf pulled up over my nose and my hat pulled down as low as I can without covering my eyes. Hearing and seeing have become a struggle, a battle of either staying warm or sacrificing my senses. I’m desperate for warmth, for coffee, or soup, anything warm. I see all the horses waiting to be fed and I want to cry because each footstep is an effort. It’s overwhelming to know that we need to be out here for hours to get chores finished, and that I must come back out again to tackle night chores. Joanie and Kristin are with me, we’ve stopped talking to each other because it takes too much effort and too much time.
We know we need to take hay out, and that task is looming over our heads like a dark cloud. The knowledge that we will freeze our hands to take the top off the nets, the cutting of the net that wraps the hay is painful, and driving the bobcat freezes our hands and feet. We finish feeding grain to the 18 horses that require it, and now it’s time to take out hay. Joanie starts the bobcat, Kristin is finishing up in the barn, and I head out to open the nets in the feeders. I’m walking out to the feeders, sight and sounds are muffled and my head is down as I search the ground for the best path. Suddenly, a pocket of warmth envelopes me and I stop. I look up to discover I have walked into a circle of horses and it is their warmth that stops me in my tracks. I close my eyes and feel them reaching out to me. The song “Breathe”, by Johnny Diaz starts to play in my mind.
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to take it in, fill your lungs
The peace of God that overcomes
Just breathe (just breathe)
let your weary spirit rest
Lay down what’s good and find what’s best
Just breathe (just breathe)
I feel a rhythm here, it’s the rhythm of the herd and my body starts to follow their rhythm as I close my eyes. I feel my heart slowing down and my breathing changes. Chaos does not exist here and it is quiet. There is no worry, no pain, no suffering, no anxiety, just breathing and heartbeats, just being right here, right now, in this moment of time. That’s all there is. I find God here, I find rest here. The horses have become my gentle leaders, and I am grateful that they opened their circle of warmth to show me how to “Just Breathe”.
There is a shift in the circle, I hear the bobcat moving. Joanie and Kristin come out of the barn and down the driveway. I look up and see them. I see the smile in their eyes, and their spirits lift me up. I can’t wait to tell them what I experienced, but for a little while I want to hold it quietly in my heart. God, my horses, and my friends have shown me how to find warmth and rest where only moments before there was worry and exhaustion. There is such beauty here, even when the world is frozen.