These are strange times. I can’t say that I’m looking forward to what 2017 has in store for us, but I’m certainly glad to see this old year pass away. I’ve crawled into my shell for the last six months, wrestling with intensely painful knee and back pain, the rejection and disloyalty of a close friend, and the chaos and expense of renovating our kitchen. When I woke up this morning and trudged out to the barn to feed the horses, I didn't feel the sense of anticipation and hope that I usually feel on the first day of the year. Looking around me, I thought about how the trees and the rocks and the horses don’t fret about the passing of time or worry about the future the way I do. I had a short talk with Silk while she ate her breakfast about letting go of my expectations.
The weather has been wreaking havoc in the corrals and pasture. It rains, then it freezes, creating moon craters and small skating rinks. Often, it’s just too dangerous to let the horses go out anywhere beyond the edges of the barn. I used to worry that they would get antsy and pent-up from being confined, but recently I’ve noticed that they don’t seem to care at all. They accept whatever happens, gate closed, gate opened, and don’t go racing around, frantic to move just for the sake of movement, even if it is dangerous. They know better.
“Maybe it will warm up enough that the ice will melt today and you can go out there,” I said to Silk. She just kept eating her mash. She wasn’t concerned about anything except licking every last crumb from her feed bucket. I took the shovel and carefully navigated the black ice to begin to chop up the skating rink in the middle of the pasture so that I could open the gate for the horses. As I cracked the ice with the edge of the shovel, getting a good workout for my arms and shoulders, I considered the lessons that water teaches us.
Water reminds me that sometimes it’s good to be a shape-shifter, to open up to change and to let go. Water is unpredictable, flowing gently, rushing wildly, turning hard and sharp as stone. We humans are mostly water, and water is absolutely essential for all living beings on earth. It is also very endangered, as we are witnessing more and more often. The recent confrontations at Standing Rock have taught me that women must be the guardians of the water. The strength of being genuine, allowing our emotions to flow and raising our voices to express what others might be afraid to say makes us powerful as a great river. I believe that water is connected to our feelings and desires, and it can show us many ways to express ourselves.
One thing that I have absorbed fully into my bones this past year is an appreciation of how inseparable I am from Mother Nature and how we never stop learning from her. The ice thawed, the horses spent a sunny afternoon in the pasture, wandering through the big puddles and tonight, it will totally freeze up and be a slippery mess again. But this too shall pass.