Seeing pain in the eyes of an animal is truly an excruciating experience.
Recently, I had the opportunity to see something I thought would only happen in the fictional world of books and movies. It concerned a horse that was caught up in deep, heavy pain. This was not the pain of a broken leg or illness but that of a broken heart. Yes, a horse with a broken heart seems to be illogical. However, my eyes have given witness to how an animal can grieve for a missing partner.
For several years now my neighbors have kept a couple horses running about on their land. It has been a joy watching the horse play with each other, kicking a ball back and forth, playing chase and even nuzzling up to one another on those cold country nights when the wind blows relentlessly. They were truly the best of friends and companions as any might be. There primary goal in life was to celebrate and dance in God’s creation.
They were not shy to meet new friends and if ever one found something curious about their paddock then not far behind would the other come to investigate.
When the one grew sick the other stayed beside and tended to it by sharing warmth and protection. While the one began to fade, the other stayed even closer.
The heavens could have come crashing down that day when the one passed away and the other would not have been any the wiser. His friend was not moving, was not playing, was oddly not about to continue their dance of life. Several hours passed to allow the horse to morn and understand that his friend was gone. As quietly as it could a back hoe molded an indentation in the ground to lay the horse. After the job was finished his friend came back to mourn.
There was no gathering of family or minister to preach. No flowers were left to soften the cold, hard reality. There was only a helpful neighbor and the owner whose own heart was breaking as well. If there were tears, I could not see them through my own but what I did see was the grief and confusion of a horse as to why his friend absent and covered in earth. The horse walked up to the new freshly made mound and there he kneeled in the dirt and lay down.
For three days the horse remained, waiting for his friend, waiting for the resurrection. But it did not happen and the mourning continued.
Today, he continues his wait. Standing by the side of the stable within distance of his friend’s last resting place. He is now a watchman waiting through his dark night. Waiting for the day when new light shines and his friend returns to continue their dance. When will that day come? Nobody knows the hour or the day but we all walk there with hope and expectation that it will come someday and the dance will begin again.