Return to Emily's page
Return to BriarCroft Web Log Home Page
November 21, 2004
There is a basic lesson that all young horses must learn (and a fewer
older horses must relearn) on our farm. It is to stand still when asked
and move only when asked. This does not come naturally to a young
horse--they tend to be impatient and fidgety and fretful and full of
energy. If they are hungry, they want food now and if they are bored,
they want something different to do and if they are fearful, they want
to be outta there.
Teaching a horse to be still is actually a greater lesson in persistence
and consistency for the human handler, which means I don't always do
well in teaching this to my horses and they (and I) lapse
frequently--wiggly pushy horses and a weary frustrated handler. It
means correcting each little transgression the horse makes, asking them
to move back to their original spot, even if there is hay waiting just
beyond their nose, asking them to focus not on their hunger, their
boredom, their fear, but asking them to focus only on me and where they
are in relationship to me. It means they must forget about themselves
and recognize something outside of themselves that is in control--even
if I move away from them to do other things. The greatest trust is when
I can stand a horse in one spot, ask them to be still, walk away from
them, briefly go out of sight, and return to find them as I left them,
still focused on me even when I was not visible.
I was reminded of this during our pastor's sermon on the book of Exodus
last Sunday when he preached on the moments before Moses parted the Red
Sea, allowing the Hebrews an escape route away from Pharoah and the
Egyptian chariots and soldiers. In those moments beforehand,
the Hebrews were pressed up against the Sea with the Egyptians bearing
down on them and they lamented they should never have left Egypt in the
first place, and that generations of bondage in slavery would have been
preferable to dying in the desert at the hands of the soldiers or
drowning in the Sea.
Moses told them to "be still". Or as our pastor said, he told them to
"shut up". Stay focused, be obedient, trust in the Lord's plan. And
the next thing that happened was the Sea opened up.
Then the Hebrews rejoiced in thanksgiving for their freedom.
Thanksgiving, as it has developed over the years from the first
historical observance of a meal shared jointly between the Pilgrims and
their Native American hosts, is just such a moment to "be still and
know" about the gifts from our God. Yet in our hurried and harried
culture, Thanksgiving is about buying the best bargain turkey, creating
the most memorable recipes, decorating in perfect Martha Stewart style,
eating together in Norman Rockwell style extended family gatherings,
watching football and parades on the biggest flat screen TV, while
preparing for the mad dash out the door the next day to start the
Christmas shopping season.
Like my horses, I need correction when I start to agitate out of
"hunger"--wanting to literally stuff myself full, or out of my
boredom--seeking the latest in entertainment or satisfaction, or out of
my fear--feeling the threats that surround us all in the world today. I
need to be reminded continually that my focus must be outside myself and
my perceived needs, and to be still long enough to know God is with us
though we cannot see Him every moment. I do not do well at this. My
horses learn much faster than I. I am restless, rarely taking the time
to be still and acknowledge God who watches, waiting for me to settle
down and focus on Him.
May this Thanksgiving remind me of my need for God, and my gratitude for
His patient persistence in moving me back into place when I wiggle and
fret and feed myself even when I'm really not hungry. May I remember
that to be still and know God is the greatest gift I can give and that I
Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
Emily from BriarCroft