Ordaining Horses as Priests
Learning from Carter Heyward
Winston Churchill once said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” This is certainly true at Free Rein Center. At Free Rein, horses and humans are partners in learning. Free Rein instructors, volunteers, and horses help children and adults with autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, physical limitations, and a wide range of other disabilities enjoy such benefits as increased flexibility, balance and coordination, enhanced gross and fine motor skills, improved posture, and self confidence.
You pat horses because you feel their soulful presence.
But it is the horse you have perceived and not merely his color....Perhaps if your perceptions are very vivid you may find yourself petting him...You do not see a horse because you judge it to be a horse, but because you feel it to be a horse.
A soul is not a thing; it is a weaving of felt relationships.
What is true of our bodies is also true of our souls. Since I am a philosopher, let me tell you a great secret of life—a soul is not a thing, it is not something which stands untouched by the events of your life. Your soul is the river of your life; it is the cumulative flow of your experience. But what do we experience? The world. Each other. So your soul is the cumulative flow of all of your relationships with everything and everyone around you. In a different image, we weave ourselves out of the threads of our relationships with everyone around us. But clearly, some people, some relationships, are the central threads of that weaving.
The horse is the priest
Toward a theology of the nose
There are many forms of intelligence: emotional, kinesthetic, mathematical, visual, verbal, tactile, auditory, and olfactory. All of them are forms of feeling: that is, feeling the presence of something else and taking it into account from our own point of view. These various forms of intelligence help us avoid danger and find our way into whatever fullness of life is available to us. They are channels of grace. In human life many of us are visually-oriented and we privilege the eyes as having more cognitive value than other senses. We speak of seeing the truth but less often of smelling the truth. But our prejudice for the eyes is our downfall. We too often think things must be seen in order to be known. A theology of the senses best begins with a recognition that multiple senses can be channels of grace and that there are "worlds" to be discovered through the nose that are unknown to the eyes.
Knowing with your nose
This evening while feeding the horses, I noticed the herd began lifting their heads and sniffing the air in the direction the wind was blowing. Shortly after, the dogs began to sniff as well, and I wondered if the herd of elk that has been in the area was upwind, in close proximity. What ever it was the horses determined it was not a threat and went about their business of eating. By the time we had finished forking out the hay I caught the familiar rural neighbourhood cold winter night wood stove or fireplace burning scent.