Sunday, March 23, 2008


Ima's Very Own Easter

Resurrection is a big word. Twelve letters are needed to create the word. Four syllables come together to make that single word. The Webster’s Dictionary has seven definitions for the word. One of those definitions talks about resurrection being “a rising from the dead that leads to a spiritual understanding”. A big word. A deep word. A significant word.

Today is Easter Sunday. For those of us raised in the Christian religion, we have our memories of celebrating Easter Sunday as a child with egg coloring contests, egg hunts, visits from the “Easter Bunny”, and of course, Easter Sunday service with the entire family.

Just this morning I gazed at a photo of the Gilbert Family all dressed for Easter service in the early 60’s. All of us girls had our Easter hats on. My Dad was in his good brown suit. And I had my freshly Vaseline’d white patent leather shoes on with my embroidered anklets. Dressed up for Easter. It was a tradition.

As we grow older, some of us sway and wander a bit from those traditions we shared as a child. But for me, this Easter Sunday is a resurrection. This Easter Sunday holds many gifts and promises and significant lessons for me. This particular Sunday is a resurrection.

This is March 23rd, 2008. The first full Sunday of Spring. Hallelujah! It is no secret that winter is a tough season up here in the Northland. And it is also no secret that winter brings challenges with it that are ever increasingly more difficult to meet and overcome. The winds are a bit stronger each year. The thermometer stays lower a bit longer each year. The snow isn’t quite so inviting as it was last year. And the days seem a bit harder and longer than they did last year. Winter is tough. And it seems to be a bit tougher every year that passes.

This first full Sunday of Spring is a true resurrection to me. It means that the perennials will soon be poking their green sprouts up through the earth. It means that the songbirds that I hear outside are back for the summer. It means that the geese I see are coming home to have their offspring and relax for a few months. The first Sunday of Spring is a resurrection of the earth and therefore of my spirit. Both will once again come back from their hibernations and become alive again. Hallelujah! It is spring in Wisconsin!

This is March 23rd, 2008. It is also Easter Sunday. And with that holiday comes the story of the original resurrection. Of good sustaining over evil. Of life and an invitation to do good. Of possibilities and sustaining. That Easter Sunday story that I know so well is to me, more than anything, the story of hope. I rely on that hope each day as I start the daily chores. The hope that good will prevail and we Humans will learn to care for each other and respect and trust each other. Simply put, we Humans will learn to be more like The Herd - teachers of the meaning of that original resurrection.

But March 23rd, 2008 is more than Easter Sunday and the first Sunday of Spring. It is also the anniversary of the crossing of one who taught me the true meaning of the word resurrection. A little mare that showed me every single day what resurrection really meant. And in doing so, left me a life lesson that I hold dear as I do the memory of Ima.

Ima came to THE FARM a starved, dehydrated, maggot infested creature without a mane and barely a tail. Her body had no reserves left. I had never seen a horse so totally depleted and without any hope. Her eyes were blinded from the starvation and yet, somehow, she had delivered a baby out of that emaciated body. A baby who would certainly die since Mom had no milk to offer.

As The Plan executed itself, I found myself in the driveway of the man who “owned” Ima. And as The Plan moved forward a bit, soon Ima and her starved, sweating baby were in my trailer heading for my barns. The voice inside of me told me that they would both die. The baby for sure. The mare, probably in a very short time. I heard myself preparing my heart that they would certainly both die. But better to die quietly and peacefully in a bed of straw in a cool barn than in a circle of dirt out in the hot sun and loaded with flies.

But Ima had other plans. She would perform unlike any
of my expectations and she would teach me the true meaning of devotion and determination and selflessness. And resurrection. Ima would take the food offered her and eat it calmly. Slowly. And in total deliberation. Ima would not inhale the food, as she so desperately wanted to do! No, Ima would chew and swallow and drink plenty of water. All the while commanding her body to pass on the nutrition to her baby in the form of milk. All the while commanding her body to not retain any of the nutrition for herself even though she so desperately needed the strength just to stand! No, Ima insisted that her body use all of the nutrition for the baby.

And so because of Ima’s selflessness, there was a resurrection at Refuge Farms that night in 1998. A little baby horse was left to die on the deep straw. But the mare who had delivered her raised her again. The mare who was starved to the point of having no muscle on her flanks simply converted the hay and water to milk. Bypassing her own needs, she gave back. And the baby drank. And the baby lived.

I tell people that April was born on the last day of April 1998. And then she was born again somewhere in the night of May 1, 1998. All because her mother had the determination and conviction to do what it took to bring her baby back from certain death. To create a resurrection.

Resurrection. It’s a big word. It means spring is coming! It means Easter Sunday! And it means that Ima taught the lesson better than any storyteller ever could. Ima taught by doing - a living example. And so, today, I honor Ima. I honor Ima by loving her daughter, April, and telling April the story of her Mom. How her Mom created our own little Easter right here in the barn. And that by creating that Easter, Ima brought us a new life and new possibilities. And Ima with her own Easter brought us hope.

I wish you peace today. Peace and contentment. May you know in your inner self that you have a place and a purpose and a future and a life after this one. May you know the determination and perseverance of Ima. The generosity and loyalty of Ima. And the strength and gift of life of our April. May you, perhaps, experience your own resurrection very soon.

Enjoy the journey of each and every day,
Sandy and The Herd

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