“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.”
― Fred Rogers
How appropriate that today’s quote is by Fred Rogers, as in Mr. Rogers, as in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood.
My neighborhood consists of about 40 rodeo bulls which live across the street (see the post Meet the Neighbors”) in a rather large pasture and a couple of horses which belong to the lady next door. Factor in the deer, wild turkeys, bobcats, opossums, raccoons, owls, coyotes, hawks, buzzards and the occasional rumored bear sighting and ours is a rather wild neighborhood. . .and we won’t, however, count “the chicken little the sky is falling” lady who swears a Big Foot lives in the surrounding woods.
We, on the other hand, have two cats.
The horses were old when we moved here about 15 years ago, making them much older today. I’m no horse person, meaning my knowledge of horses is somewhat limited, but if the one on the left, whose back is sagging rather notably, is any indication of age, old pretty much sums it up.
The lady next door is rather elusive and not at all sociable. She is, however, what I would consider to be, a gentleman farmer, or in her case, a gentlewoman farmer. She supposedly runs some sort of company, but seems to retreat to this “farm” as a home. At one point she had about 8 cows but that was short lived. As long as we have lived here, I’ve never seen her ride the horses nor actually pay them much attention. We are also wondering if she may not have moved closer to town as she seems to be gone a good bit of the time, returning every blue moon.
I do know the horses names. . .Logan and Nick—however I don’t know which is which. Don’t tell anyone but I have been known to wander over to the electric fence she has up between our two properties with a couple of carrots for the lonely pair who gratefully seem to nibble the lanky orange sticks from my hand. Sadly, this is the type of woman who would most likely not appreciate my giving her horses carrots. Nevertheless the animal lover in me just hates seeing lonely or neglected animals.
Upon close observation the casual viewer will note that both of these two horses are inseparable. We have never seen one without the other–always in close proximity one to another. Neither allowing the other to wander too far from sight. They have obviously lived a long time together and seem almost dependent upon one another.
There is much about the relationship between these two horses which can be said for and about us all. Companionship is such an essential aspect of the human psyche. Even for those of us who consider ourselves to be a bit of a loner, the comradeship, if not the companionship, of another like minded soul is often most comforting. We were and are wired for connection with other living creatures–be they human or animal.
It is during this bleak time of year, when the weather turns most foul—when it is neither fit for man nor beast, that my thoughts turn to our homeless population—both human as well as animal. I do not live in a major metropolitan urban area. My life is that of a rural dweller. I have, however, traveled far and wide on this planet of ours and I have seen those cities which seem to have many a homeless dweller.
The need for the creature comforts of shelter and warmth are indeed paramount but I believe that the need for the kind interaction of one’s fellow man is what is truly most essential. To be acknowledged as a living breathing being is imperative. But how often have we all walked along a sidewalk not giving the person nestled in the crook of an empty doorway, or huddled under a piece of greasy cardboard a second glance?
I say all of this as I was driving home yesterday from Atlanta. It was raining with temperatures in the low 40s. Along the side of the interstate, just a stones throw from a city center, sat a lone tent pitched in a clump of weedy bushes. As I barreled along the interstate, racing past this lone little wet tent, my thoughts wandered to the whats and whys as to a tent pitched just off a major interstate artery leading either to or from Atlanta–depending on ones perspective.
I suspect it is not only a very hard life to live without a place to call ones own, but more disconcerting is the thought of the loneliness. Having no one to help bare any of the tremendous burden. No one to offer comfort or solace. No one to hear the cries, the mutterings, the empty anguish. No one who can offer a warm touch, an embrace, a whispered “I love you”. . .
All of which brings us back to my 4 legged friends next door. My thought is that if something happens to one of the horses, the other one will most likely mourn himself to death. Just as we often hear happening with older couples who have been married for many many years.
As the exuberant joy of the holidays has now passed us by and we find ourselves settling into the long darks days of a cold bleak winter, may we all work at being mindful of those who are less fortunate than ourselves—particularly the homeless and the oh so very lonely. . .
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”