Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Of Patience and Cholla

One of my favorite things to do is ride the backcountry on my horse, Nocona. I love exploring the wide open spaces. Also, there are always lessons to be learned or reminders of lessons once learned: parallels that compare riding the trails to life itself. The lessons quite often involve patience—and Jesus coming to the rescue when I fall short.

So went the adventure as Nocona and I rode merrily down the trail. I glanced at his feet as we rode a precarious part of the path. Seriously, Nocona? Do you need to walk on the edge? I gently cued him with my legs and hands to move him over to a safer part of the trail. He fought me on it. Frustrated, I rolled my spur a bit too energetically on his side. Oh, he listened then! His rump spun around—right into a cholla cactus.

Now, those of you with any experience in the desert with its various array of cacti are probably reading fast to see what happened next. Well, what could have happened and what did happen were two different things ... thank God. Nocona had three bulbs of cholla sticking in his back leg and rump. And yes, he commenced to bucking and kicking, entering us in our own little private rodeo on top of a hill—complete with a cliff. "JESUS HELP ME!" I blurted out.

Immediately, Nocona stopped in mid-air, landed, and calmly stood as I dismounted—like nothing was stuck in him at all! Looking around, I saw no trees to tie him to (only cactus—and that wasn't happening). So, pointing him straight ahead, I stepped back to his flank and rummaged through my saddlebag for my trail gloves. You've got to be kidding me—where are my trail gloves? I never leave home without those. Great.

Have you ever been up close and personal with a cholla and its lovely, long, needle-sharp barbs? If so, I bet you're cringing right now—so was I. But there was "nothin' for it" but to cowgirl-up, grab hold, and pull. Surprisingly (and a miracle), I hardly felt it, and the cholla bulb came out easier than expected. Nocona kicked out a couple of times, but they all came out with no problem.

After all was said and done, I realized we stood in the only clearing—no cactus or rocks—and on the only part of the trail my horse could safely "break in two" (as we call it) and not be in serious trouble.

Thank you, Jesus, for your ever so patient heart (and Your angels who had to be standing there holding my horse)!

 "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him”—Nahum 1:7