Gentle Kindnesses



Night does not call to me – It is the morning rays of the sun that beckon to my soul. Long before the moon finds its rightful full space in the sky I tend to retreat to my nest. Night is a space that overlaps into my life so rarely that I feel as if I'm a foreigner viewing sights for the first time. And sometimes, that is just the change of perspective that one needs to realign and touch the essence of what truly matters.

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The owl swooped low overhead startled from its perch as I approached on my way home. A gift of gentle kindness. Its wings, with feathers catching the dim light and outlining their wide span, dug into the air once, twice, three times and then disappeared into the night. A barn owl I supposed as I whispered a word of thanks from a place within me that had been refueled on this night.

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She nickered to me in the dark. Having heard my voice as I issued unheeded commands to the young lab to stay she responded with a soft call. I suppose she may have wondered why I was there. I visit so infrequently and after dark in the cold of winter was unheard of. It's a wonder she calls to me at all, so little time has been invested in our relationship since she came to me 18 months prior. 

The light flickers on and I can see her muzzle over the wall, steam billowing from her soft nostrils. Her interest is rewarded with a carrot, then two more at her stall door where she can fully hang her head over and nuzzle me looking for more treats. She's muddy after a day in the pasture. Her eyes are soft and inviting. I breathe into her nose and she responds the same... a greeting horses use with each other. I realize I've never done this with her. 

A candy cane hangs on her door left over from Christmas celebrations. I snap off a piece and offer it to her. She takes it gently from my hand and experiments with the flavor. Her head bobs up and down as she considers the unfamiliar taste. I inhale her scent - horse with a slight hint of peppermint. It is the smell of my childhood. It is the smell of my adulthood. It is the smell of my life that I all too often wash off and pack up and forget about as I go about the business of being busy.

It's cold and I'm late. I'm always late it seems. 

I wait. Spending just a few more moments exhaling the stress of the day. She nuzzles me softly once more - a gentle kindness that centers me into the present moment. Just one more carrot and then I head home.

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He's always ready. Even when I would rather he not be. He wants to be with me and whatever I'm doing no matter what. Expectant eyes and a tail that just cannot stop wagging greet me when I open the door. 

Fine. Load up. It's getting late and the errands will keep me out after dark. I'd rather not be alone anyways, although alone time is what I'm craving in this mood. He's a good companion when I'm feeling this way. 

His face looks and feels like velvet. He lays down next to me where I can stroke his massive head. I melt. The walls I’d built this day crumble down with each nudge of his nose. A gentle kindness I needed this night. I do not understand him most of the time - he is a challenge to my abilities and has the energy of a freight train. In the car however, he is a different dog. In the car he is calm, relaxed and soft. It is here where we bond - where he and I are both still in our own way. 

As usual, he's done his job of opening my heart magnificently and my spirit feels uplifted. Errands are done and people are waiting for me but perhaps there is time for just one more stop.


It's been too long since I've said hello to my horse and I cannot remember the last time I've been out after dark.  

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