The almost full moon was pale in the darkening sky when I locked up the chickens for the night. I didn’t intend to visit the donkeys, but Lulu was standing by the side of the barn looking at me. And I wanted to see them, somehow I felt like something had changed between us since spending the day at Blue Star Equiculture, a rescue farm for working horses, mostly Percherons, Shires and Clydesdales, in Massachusetts.
I walked into the barn yard and the three donkeys surrounded me. I scratched their necks and under their chins and pictured the giant horses I saw today. I made space in my heart and silently I told the donkeys that I was with their cousins. I let the feeling of what it was like to stand under a horses chin scratching her neck, a horse so big I couldn’t reach the top of her head, trusting that she wouldn’t hurt me. And I’m not really sure what that feeling is, how to explain it, to be walking around with these massive animals and not be afraid. It felt like kindness and wisdom and a shared history. Like an innate knowledge of each other.
Sometimes, when I’m with the donkeys, I open my heart to them. I let myself fully feel whatever I’m feeling, which I sometimes have words for and other times don’t. I can feel the emotion passing from me to them and back again, until the boundaries between us disappear. So it’s no longer me and Fanny or me and Lulu, it’s just the emotion and we become one in it. And it’s more than just a connection between me and donkey. It’s the feeling that I’m not alone, that I’m as much a part of the natural world as the mud under my feet and the trees in the woods. That I belong.
And I think those giant horses make me feel the same way. But because they’re so big, they remind me of the powerful forces of nature, the ones that can easily destroy. Yet they choose not to. They choose to live with us peacefully and in partnership.
So this evening, when I was scratching Fanny behind her ears and Simon pressed his head into my back, I felt they understood what I had experienced today. And we passed the story back and forth between us until time and distance dissolved and we were all standing there together, me the donkeys and the giant horses. All one.