Sunday, September 23, 2007
The Gift IS Volunteering
"Back in the day", when I was younger and still loving the adrenaline rush that only competitive sports could fulfill in my soul, one of the activities I participated in was scuba diving. Besides all of its adventure, what I remember being most profoundly impacted by was an overwhelming awareness of, "I never knew..."
I never knew it was possible at those depths to see the colors of the rainbow in such splendor. Before experiencing it myself, no one would have been able to convince me of the unbelievable size of the animals that live in the ocean and the gentle way they maneuvered through their environment. Far below what is seen on the surface of the water, there existed a deep peacefulness, and at the same time such a tremendous sense of power that unpredictably awaited me in the depths of the ocean blue. For as dangerous as the sport can be, I was impacted by how that huge and powerful container of water could make me feel as if I was being held safely in a force much greater than myself.
Everything I experienced in the depths of the ocean felt very intentional and of tremendous value. I couldn't believe all of those amazing gifts existed without my having any prior knowledge of them. Without my personal challenge of wanting to learn something new...to do something different, I would have missed this opportunity to learn so much and do something that ended up leaving such an important imprint on my life.
These are the same feelings that I find myself experiencing at Refuge Farms. From my very first visit to THE FARM, I could feel that there was this same elusive something for me to explore here. Since becoming a volunteer here, I have once again felt that old familiar awareness of, "I never knew..." And, without this volunteer opportunity, I would have never experienced the difference both Herds are making in my life.
The depths from which it is possible to learn and grow at Refuge Farms certainly mirrors and exceeds anything I experienced from my scuba diving exploits. I pray each day that I am given the opportunity to take ALL the gifts that are present at THE FARM, so that I may become a better person. I strive to take each lesson learned and integrate them so that I may make a difference in the life of another living creature. Although, I will admit that there are times when that intention feels overwhelming to me.
Yes, this is my personal daily prayer, but one that I believe is also possible for each person that experiences these huge animals, we call The Herd. Their innate wisdom reaches forward towards you from the depths of their soul...through their eyes to gently tap your heart as if to say, "I have been waiting for you...let me share my unconditional love with you...and let me teach you how simply you can share this gift with someone else."
I have found in these Ministers of Healing, a beauty...a splendor in the multitude of colors within each of their unique personalities that create in me a desire to participate in the world differently.
I have found an unforgettable peacefulness that resides within the spirits of these huge gentle giants. I watch as they gracefully maneuver their way into the hearts of many…in the same way they effortlessly share their wounds with one another in this place they now call home.
By volunteering at THE FARM, I have been able to experience a sense of their tremendous power and the sacred way they unpredictably wait to greet each one of us. I am in awe of how they could misuse their power, as humans are so prone to do, but in spite of all they have endured at the hands of humans, they don't... I am humbled by how they consistently choose to share the power of their love instead. "I never knew..."
And, for as dangerous as they certainly could be, I am deeply impacted by how they use that huge and powerful body to somehow create a sense of safety for us. And, in a similar way as I experienced in the ocean, they innately create a sense in me that I am being held within a force greater than myself.
Each moment shared with any of The Herd is a gift. Within each of those sacred moments, I can feel how intentionally they live their lives...how intentionally they try to share the huge capacity of their hearts with us.
If I had not become a volunteer at Refuge Farms, I would've missed all the gifts that are offered so freely and unconditionally from the ones we love so much...the ones we call The Herd. Yes, volunteers work really hard here at THE FARM. But, the gifts that are available to us all are many, and each is priceless and potentially life-changing. And, to learn of the individual healing journeys of the horses is both humbling and inspiring. The horses are truly teachers to us all.
Refuge Farms has been working very hard for the past few months on a new web page called The Current Herd. The stories of abuse, neglect, and starvation that bring the majority of horses here to THE FARM are tragic...but, it is in the understanding of their individual stories that you come to appreciate the Magic that occurs at THE FARM...the healing that truly happens here for equine and human alike.
We are all excited about the stories being shared in The Current Herd pages. After reading their individual healing journeys, I stand in complete awe of their endless capacities to love...and, to be loved... Their stories of healing are inspiring; each one of them has so much to teach us about making this world a better place. We hope that it will be through their stories that you may more fully experience the second Mission of Refuge Farms which is in how these once wounded horses become such Ministers of Healing for each one of us. That is the Magic, and those are their gifts being offered to each one of us... "I never knew..."
In addition to our sharing their stories with you, we have been given an unexpected gift of having their stories shared in a very significant and special way. The week of October 8th, 2007 Tony Stromberg is coming to Refuge Farms to photograph The Herd. He is a commercial photographer whose first book is entitled, Spirit Horses. Tony followed his own life journey away from a successful career as a commercial photographer in the fast-paced advertising world to a life that involved more space and stillness. He moved to New Mexico to pursue his true passion: fine art photography of his favorite subject, the horse.
Tony Stromberg is currently working on his second book. The focus of this book is on the issue of abused and neglected horses. Refuge Farms is one of the six horse rescue organizations that he has chosen to be photographed in his book. He will be spending most of the first week in October here with us, photographing The Herd. We are more than honored to be chosen and are grateful to be able to share their amazing lives, their healing journeys, and their Ministries of Healing with the world. The Magic of their healing and teachings will live on eternally.
As he expressed in the introduction of Spirit Horses, Tony Stromberg writes:
I thank God that I am able to volunteer at THE FARM so that I can be a part of the lives of The Herd. I am grateful to be a part of the important Missions of Refuge Farms, and for the opportunity to somehow give back something to the wounded equine healers that generously share so many of their gifts with us. And, I am unspeakably grateful to become friends with so many of the other volunteers...
I thank each one of The Herd for teaching me how to be a better person. And, I thank Refuge Farms for allowing me to be a volunteer. Without this opportunity to learn so much, I would not be doing the one thing that is leaving such an imprint on my life…and in my heart. May I be given the strength and courage to always walk as faithfully as each of the horses does each and every day. And, just as I experienced in scuba diving, when I am at Refuge Farms I truly do feel held safely in a force much greater than myself. "I just never knew..."