Okay, so you all have probably had enough pictures for now. But these ones have a silly little story:
I’m carried down a lush green path with my guide Judy ahead of me. I’m on the back of a golden-brown maned horse named Clyde. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about him, it’s stubbornness. Also, he follows so closely behind the lead horse.
Maybe it’s not stubbornness that motivates this little firecracker–maybe it’s his stomach. He wants food when he wants it, and when I pull his reins, he pulls harder against me. He’s saying, “No one is the boss of me!” I finally give in; let him have his way.
The cool autumn air kisses my skin as I pull my boyish Billabong jacket tighter. I’m so glad I remembered it. The air here is much cooler than Florida’s crisp, hot atmosphere.
Our ride is about 2 1/2 hours long and we take a 30 minute break. We look out and take in the overwhelming allure of the Western Carolina mountains. There is nothing like this in the world. My tour guide, Judy, tells me she’s lived here all her life.
“No one could drag me out of here,” she says. I can see why.
We are back on the trail. My mind starts to wander and then goes blank. I’m tired from being up so early and not falling asleep on time the night before. Tired from work, work, work. I try to relax and enjoy the ride but my stubborn horse, the one who loves to eat, keeps pushing me against the bushes. He loves the way the leaves feel against his body, and I try to pull him away, but he is stubborn about this too. I finally give up. The leaves scrape and scratch my skin, irritating me, but I am still enjoying this journey.
One thing troubles me about this horse. Why does he follow so closely to the horse in front? Is he afraid of falling behind–of being lost and alone? My mind imagines the worst as my heart pulls me to connect with the emotions of this great creature. I ask Judy about it.
“We got him when he was six or seven. His previous owners just pushed him real hard.”
“So he’s afraid of getting in trouble maybe?”
“Just afraid of being left behind, losing us.”
Her answer confirms my suspicions. Poor Clyde!
We pass by some picturesque sights–small waterfalls, big rocks, lush trees. For most of the trip we hear silence apart from the horses’ footsteps. At other times we hear musical symphonies–birds chirping, water flowing…The sounds of nature become a composition by the ultimate composer: God.
Soon we are out from under the canopy of trees. In there, it was dark and cool. Out here, it is bright and warm. For miles and miles green rolling hills pour out before us. It’s a sight to behold.
Up ahead I see…a piano? I see a piano with a tree growing straight through the center . The tour guide tells me it is left over from a filming of a Billy Graham show several weeks before. The organization set the piano in place and left it afterwards. It’s actually an interesting addition to the site.
It’s at this point that I know our journey is almost over. The change in scenery alerts me of this and I know our destination is on the other side of the hills.
Our horses slowly stride back–why can’t we make a last galloping entrance and look all majestic like in the movies? In fact, the one thing that would have improved the trip would have been some trotting and galloping. Does this tour guide have a sense of adventure? Despite this, I know the trip was great. As we slowly stride back I realize how grateful I am. I’m grateful to live in these mountains, to be known by their Creator, and to know his creation. These horses–these beautiful, beautiful horses…They bring me joy. And it makes me realize–that’s why God created these animals. He created them to bring us joy. He created them so we could love them. What greater gift could we have than to know this loving Father?