Today I made the hour and fifteen minute drive to Oniste, in Cumberland Furnace, TN. It is a spectacular campus, with cabins, a grand old house, three dogs, an amazing staff, and a barn full of horses. Over the course of the last six months or so, I have developed a songwriting program there. My trips have become more frequent and my love of that land more deep. I pull up, and literally feel all the anxiety roll out of my veins. Peace hovers.
When I’m not writing or working with a client, I walk the property, breathing, praying, listening. Every time, I stop by the barn to see the horses. One day, not so long ago, I stood on the edge of their fence, crying. My heart was full of some tough emotions, so I took the space to let the tears fall. Took, the big dark beautiful horse, with eyes full of intensity, walked over to me and put the softest part of his nose right on my nose. He breathed with me and caught my tears in his whiskers.
I have long since believed all of nature is speaking to us, if only we will listen. However, my strongest connection has been to horses and dogs. They are powerful teachers in my life.
Today, I heard Waylon, the blond boy, with the flowing mane, carrying on, restless in the pin. The horses don’t often get uneasy, so I walked out to see what his fuss was about. He and Angel, a small painted horse, had been corralled together, away from the others. Their diets were being monitored, so they couldn’t be put out to pasture with the others. This was not okay with Waylon.
When I walked into the pen I called for him. He briskly trotted my way. Over and over he nudged me with his large head. He paced the fence. Nudged me again. Snapped at Angel. I rubbed his heavy jaw line trying to soothe him, but he pushed my hand away, stomped his feet, and carried on with his pacing.
When I returned to the office I said to Miles, “you have an angry horse out there today. What’s his problem?”
He doesn’t want to be away from the other horses, they don’t like being separated, Miles responded.
I couldn’t help but think, ‘I know just how he feels.’ Lonely and craving his companions. My heart drew closer to the surface, as did the hot tears inside.
“God, we aren’t meant to be alone. So, why am I? Why have I been? And for how much longer? Weren’t we made for community, for each other?”
As I drove home, through the rolling hills, my mind kept going back to Waylon and his call to the others, his craving to not be alone. I walked in the door to my aging dog and the silence. But something struck me. Although Waylon couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t out to pasture, why he had been pulled away from the community, the comfort, the safety of the other horses, Miles, his caregiver, knew exactly why. He would not be kept there long, but simply for a short time and for his best interest.
It was as though God whispered, ” I know, Tyler. I know. Trust me. Go into the barn, rest, quit pacing the fence. You’ll return to the pasture soon enough. I have a beautiful plan for your highest good. All you feel is the separation. All you see is the distance between what you crave and where you are. But I see far beyond your immediate restless fear. I am Love. You are not forgotten. Rest, on the warm hay in the safety . Morning will come.”
So tonight Waylon and I are both separated from the connection we crave. However, we are also, both of us, carefully watched by the eyes of tenderness, mercy, and love, which know what is best and will see to it we are well cared for.
(Waylon and Miles in the photograph)
—- Tyler Hayes
sending you love wherever you are in the world.