For the Best Lullaby of All

The best moment in the barn is in the evening just following the hay feeding, as the animals are settling down to some serious chewing. I linger in the center aisle, listening to the rhythmic sounds coming from each of 12 stalls. It is a most soothing contented cadence, first their lips picking up the grass, then the chew chew chew chew and a pause and it starts again. It’s even better in the dark, with the lights off.

I’ve always enjoyed listening to the eating sounds at night from the remote vantage point of my bedroom TV monitor system set up to watch my very pregnant mares before foaling. A peculiar lullaby of sorts, strange as that seems, but when all my farm animals are chewing and happy,  I am at peace.

It reminds me of those dark deep nights of feeding my own newborns, rocking back and forth with the rhythm of their sucking.  It is a moment of being completely present and peaceful, and knowing at that moment, nothing else matters–nothing else at all.  That must be a little bit how Mary felt cradling her newborn son in a barn so many years ago.  We know she “pondered these things in her heart”, knowing more, much more, was to come…

If I am very fortunate, each day I live has a rhythm that is reassuring and steady, like the sounds of hay chewing, or rocking a baby. I wake knowing where the next step will bring me, and live in each moment fully, without distraction by the worry of the unknown.

But the reality is: life’s rhythms are often out of sync, the cadence is jarring, the sounds are discordant, and sometimes I’m the one being chewed on, so pain replaces peacefulness. Maybe that is why those moments in the barn~~that sanctuary~~are so treasured. They bring me home to that doubting center of myself that needs reminding that pain is fleeting,  and peace, however elusive, is forever. I always know where to find it for a few minutes at the end of every day, in a pastoral symphony of sorts.

Someday my hope for heaven will be angel choruses of glorious praise, augmenting a hay-chewing lullaby.

So simple yet so grand.

The Farrier’s Apprentice

The Farrier's Lesson by Gordon Snidow

It appears easier than it is
bent over a horse hoof balanced
snug between your knees
wielding sharp knife and coarse rasp
to nip and carve and shape and smooth
to perfect roundness.

It appears easier than it is
to soothe a horse whose ears
swivel back in judgment,
whose tail swishes your face as if
you were an annoying fly
to be flicked away.

It appears easier than it is
to not get angry when the leg
is yanked away from your grip
and a hoof stomps down on your sneakered foot
then refuses to lift up again
while you swell up sweating.

It appears easier than it is
studying experienced hands’ movement
over the haunch, the flank,
the cannon and pastern, and not envy
how such confidence demands
the respect of the horse.

It appears easier than it is
to learn an ancient trade based solely
on trust between two creatures briefly bonding,
the stronger withholding bite and kick
to yield and submit to love expressed
through the curved knife and refining rasp.