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Who understands the exact tone of hoofbeats across grass and then dirt?
I am that wild horse-beat, heartbeat.
I am a refugee of my own creation.
So, tell me, who is in your herd? What color are their beautiful manes, their eyes? What is the texture of their wounds? How bright do their souls shine? Who is near you in the field, when you are on the ground, legs folded beneath you, injured, alone, ready to give up? Who protects you at any cost? Which wild-eyed soul is your salvation?
Who do you follow, while you desperately search to find home within your own huge bones, moving your ribs with your deep breath, as you race across the plains?
What are the ways that you have said goodbye to those wise, strong, nurturing spirits that have gone on to conquer new ground or been carried away by angels? How did you grieve with your head hanging low, your whiskers touching the ground?
Who did you call to, when the loss was so deep that it filled the spaces and cracks in your heart, like mortar, made of fear and rage? Whose hooves did you rest upon?
I was two years old, standing on a wooden and weathered fence board, staring at horses in a field. My father was beside me, talking to me. Although I can’t remember the words, the essence of the connection is burned into my fiber. Horses are beautiful, noble, strongly wild and soulful. He and I knew this, and I looked up at him, smiling.
From that point on, I only drew horses on paper, even when there were misguided art assignments to create something that did not speak to my heart or soul. I read about horses, dreamt of horses, and heard the sound they make when they breathe.
My father died when I was eight years old. He began to leave Earth while we were all home on a snow-covered Sunday morning. And he finished dying in a hospital where a social worker handed me a piece of paper on which I drew a brown horse with black hooves.
I drew, I didn’t talk to her, and I vividly heard people talking about how I was too young to understand… but I understood. I understood that it was okay that I didn’t kiss my father’s body in the casket because it was not really him anymore. They said they didn’t want me to regret that choice later, and I said, “I won’t.”
Something died in me too, something ancient and warm, something that knew how to cry.
When I was 26 years old, I met that brown horse with black hooves from that drawing. That horse was sent to me in the most gentle, powerful and steady soul in the world. I was love-struck. I named him Romeo. One day, as we rode, I fell from him while going over a jump, and I started to cry. I cried for him.
I cried for his spirit — a spirit willing to risk his own protection for me. I cried because my heart was so open to the mysteries of this creature and my fear that something could have happened to him, even though it did not. Since then, I never really stopped crying.
I witnessed and felt his sacrifice and love in a life of service to others, and on some level, I desired to touch that piece of him, to touch that piece of us all. The spirit of this horse was the definite and clear reflection of my mother, who spent her days picking me up off of the ground so that I could continue to jump and leap through the air.
Hooves and Talons
When I began to journey into the world of hypnotherapy, healing energy and spiritual work, I started to have encounters with hawks. Everywhere! One hawk flew across the barn driveway, right in front of my shocked and surprised eyes. I often saw three to four hawks per day.
I did what all of us would do — I rationalized these experiences with my humanness, saying “Well, we sure have a lot of hawks around here,” but my spirit knew, there was more to this hawk messenger than I could have imagined.
Being a child of Nature, I had roamed woods and meadows for most of my life, yet never had I encountered so many red-tailed hawks. And then one day, this happened:
I was staring at a baby hawk. This hawk had her wings splayed out in front of her body, not behind, where she was perched. I was enamored with her. Huge raindrops were falling earlier and winds pushed the turbulence from the sky, and stirred it up in my gut, in my life. The hawk was fanning her wings to dry them.
I decided to begin a campaign of fear for her and on her behalf. What if… she really couldn’t fly yet or she took her first flight but wasn’t strong enough.. .or the storm dislodged her from her safe and cozy nest too soon?
I created a picture of how I would catch her and take her for rehabilitation at the animal sanctuary… because after all, it may be that she had a broken wing on top of being way too small and way too young to fly.
I pictured her fleeing me in small bursts of flight with her gangly wings as I tried to save her by making her my captive, for her own good.
Suddenly, I realized how I was doing what I often do, trying to save everything and everyone, because of the one that I couldn’t save when I was eight years old. I was this hawk, too young, too scared, too broken. These were my fears. They did not belong to Nature.
So I didn’t move. I just held my breath. She looked all around. I stared, mesmerized. I just knew that she would test those wings soon, waving them in the air to feel their lift, making sure her feathers were dry and capable of holding her up. I knew this and I felt the excitement building.
And then it happened. She looked to the right and flew with such force, such confidence, in a half-second, before I even realized it. There were no pre-flight tests, no doubt, nothing but straight and clear knowing. I said to myself, “I want that, I want to know the exact moment when my wings are dry.”
When you are lost or cold in your soul, go to Nature. Get dirty. This is a command. A horse, a tree, the sky — they all reflect your path back to you so that you can see it, really see it. Sometimes the path is a warpath, an ancient fight with the world or yourself. You will find your warrior in nature, right underneath your surrender.
Your own spirit, your own nature, will be presented to you in the eyes of a horse. It will be your choice to believe it, to nourish it, to transform it.
When we begin to see our patterns in life, we sometimes feel anger. It is easy to call up the part of ourselves that says, “Seriously, this pattern again? This thing I do that is so unhealthy?”
But in nature, you sometimes learn that a pattern is a part of your essence and the only way that you are launched onto your path, wrenched out of your stuck-ness, moved to tears with grace. So love your patterns too.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t use them as resources to grow, and then grow like a tree, drinking in the water of your lessons, feeling the scuffed edges of your bark, carved by the winds of this adventure.
Find that cliff, stand on it and then fall harder than you ever have. Run to something with wild fear, with fierce love. Run to yourself. Stomp your hooves on the trail, and say No to anything that attempts to bridle your life force fever. Honor your herd for their desperate, steely support and dancing gait.
Honor your own scarred heart that continues to take you forward. These pilgrim wanderings, these dusty and rain-soaked trails will lead you home.
Dirty Wild Horse Girl
PS: My wings aren’t dry yet.
MAY 9, 2016 / VIA MAURA COYNE