by David Cassidy, Pastor at Christ Community Church, Franklin

Early most every morning, I pour my coffee and wander out on the back patio to enjoy not only the cool morning air and taste of that first cup, but also the sights and sounds of one of the greatest shows a person can experience: horses rising to meet the day. Chestnut, black and grey, Paints, Quarters, Saddlebreds and Thoroughbreds gallop through open pastures, roll on the ground, sing and shout good mornings to one another, snort at owners for attention – especially some breakfast – and playfully nip at each other to make sure the pecking order of their hierarchy has remained unchanged since the sun set. Its a spectacle grand enough to brighten the morning of anyone.

Shakespeare noted the joys of riding a horse when he wrote in Henry V, “When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ” Besides a church altar, I suspect there’s no better place to heal a shattered soul than the back of a horse. Their gallantry, strength, dignity, and beauty mysteriously bring people back to themselves. Churchill was surely correct when he famously observed that “there is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

Williamson County is horse country. Our green hills and lush pastures marked by rows of rolling black fences and bordered by ribbon roads that cut through the countryside offer a tour of an equine paradise. This weekend, like so many others, we host a beautiful competition for horses and riders, The Tennessean, at Brownland Farm on the Hillsboro Road. Its a ‘Dressage’ gathering, a poetic demonstration of the unique relationship between a rider and her horse. I wouldn’t miss it.

Even God describes horses in terms of wonder. Confronting Job with a series a questions, The Lord asks, “Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? Do you make him leap like the locust? His majestic snorting is terrible. He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength; he goes out to meet the weapons. He laughs at fear and is not dismayed; he does not turn back from the sword. The quiver rattles against him, the flashing spear and javelin. With shaking and rage he races over the ground, and he does not stand still at the voice of the trumpet. As often as the trumpet sounds he says, ‘Yes!’ He scents the battle from afar, and the thunder of the captains and the war cry” (Job 39).

We could learn a lot from a horse. Rather than turning back in cowardice from the enemies and struggles of the day, we might instead laugh at fear and race to the front lines of conflict, suffering, and need; we might hear from afar the voice of our soul’s Captain calling us to join him in the struggle for truth and love, and with strength we didn’t know we possessed enter the day with joy and resolve.

The next time you’re driving through Williamson County and see one of these majestic creatures, be inspired by their strength while you enjoy their beauty. There really is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of us all.

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