Can I be as still as the harnesses and bridles in Atley’s barn?
Can I be still and hear the click of my mechanical heart valve and the tick of my grandmother’s clock that reads inside the door “cleaned in 1946” the year of my birth?
Can I stand here in Atley’s barn and hear the two Belgians, breathing in the shadows, the two who yesterday pulled a buggy of parents and kids to the auction in Mt. Hope? Today they are resting.
Like so many tasks we do them because we have the skills and health and nothing to stand on, if we said “no.”
And so the Belgians responded, when Atley quietly called and roused them.
Now resting in the shadows of the barn, I hope they are remembering yesterday.
I hope they are thinking about the care with which Atley pulled the straps of the bridle and harnesses just enough,
the calm and gentle voice of a settled man of some age who loves his horses,
looks forward to the irregular rhythm of hooves on gravel,
the clink and creak that come from somewhere.
As they rest I hope they are remembering raising their eyes with Atley to the horizon,
their movement and that distant stillness.
Such a rich paradox of stillness within and beyond,
and the horses’ uneven rhythm as they pull everyone to auction.
Stillness and movement.
We live both, somehow.
Maybe because we have practiced stillness,
we can hear the cicadas rubbing their legs in the summer evening.
Perhaps with too little stillness,
we realize we have not heard someone’s voice.
When reading, our dog sleeping in our lap in the evening
abruptly lifts her head and peers out the screen door into the darkness
to hear someone’s voice which we could not.
Now in this new day, Atley is a servant to his two Pantherons and they,
standing still ready to plow,
return the gift.
And together they raise their eyes and gaze at the field’s horizon
trusting the unknowns coming to them,
sent from the Mystery on the far side of first light. ©John Holliger 2014