December 19, 2016
I share this story each year and it always means as much to me as it did the year before. It reminds me that I’m doing exactly what I’m meant to do with my life – helping horses. We help the young, the old, and all ages in between – they all matter. The old mare standing over the foal in the photo is Grandma Bones. She came to us literally skin on bones in 2006. Grandma lovingly assumed the motherly role to Chloe, a nurse mare foal. It was a heartwarming relationship that I was blessed to have witnessed. Grandma may have been an old one but she offered Chloe so much. The wisdom in her eyes and unconditional love in her heart was strong. The few short months that Grandma gave to Chloe before succumbing to issues related to her neglect and starvation were priceless.
Many lost and abused souls find their way to us – we do our very best to help them heal and come to know unconditional love. Whether they are with us for an hour, a day, a month, or years – they regain dignity and they know that they are loved. While we’ve suffered many losses over the years, we have also rejoiced in many new beginnings. And it’s only because of your help we are able to do what we do and we thank all of you for that.
Only for Love
The young couple had made their usual hurried, pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt the elderly parents with their small herd of horses. The farm had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine which topped the hill behind the farm, and through the years had become a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the countryside. The old folks no longer showed their horses, for the years had taken their toll, but they sold a few foals each year, and the horses were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day’s end.
Crossly, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks. “Why do you not at least dispose of “The Old One.” She is no longer of use to you. It’s been years since you’ve had foals from her. You should cut corners and save where you can. Why do you keep her anyway?” The old man looked down as his worn boot scuffed at the barn floor and his arm stole defensively about the Old One’s neck as he drew her to him and rubbed her gently behind the ears. He replied softly, “We keep her because of love. Only because of love.”
Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley. So it was, that because of the leave-taking, no one noticed the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the first spark fall. None but the “Old One”.
In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved horses. But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire’s fury.
By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left, and the old man and his wife. They thanked those who had come to their aid, and the old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulders as he clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana. Brokenly he whispered, “We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas. Let us, therefore, climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared.”
And so, he took her by the hand and helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his hand. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they looked up and gasped in amazement at the incredible beauty before them. Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top most bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass. Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this.
Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy as he pulled his wife forward. There, beneath the tree, was their Christmas gift. Bedded down about the “Old One” close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe. At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping daintily through the snow. The foals were frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits. The mares pressed uneasily against the “Old One” as she moved calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine. And now, she lay among them and gazed at the faces of those she loved. Her body was brittle with years, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift – because of love. Only because of love.
Author: Reverend David Griffith
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