The ritual fire was already burning for a day when we got to Blue Star on Friday. From then till Sunday, my days were filled with sadness and beauty, crying and stories, laughing and people and horses. I meditated in the fire circle or talked to people I knew who sat next to me. I helped feed the horses and muck the stables. I heard loving stories about Paul and how he was there for so many different people at important moments in their lives or just in kind words everyday. I cut up fruit, washed dishes, ate from the coolers of food people dropped off all day, everyday. I sat in the kitchen expecting Paul to be sitting at the computer in the next room. It hugged people and horses, I talked some, but mostly listened. I picked wild flowers to put under the tree where Paul died. And I rode bare back on a horse, for the first time in my life.
The horse procession was Pamela’s idea. And when she asked me if I wanted to ride Luna, I didn’t hesitate. I had participated in many of the prayers and rituals already, and I wanted to be a part of this one too. And I felt attached to Luna. She seems to me to have an ancient soul. Suddenly the mood at Blue Star became festive. We’ll make the horses look beautiful, said Pamela, then ride them to around the tree and fire four times take them to the Peace Pole where the rivers come together and through the woods where Paul loved to sleep by the river, then around the perimeter of the farm and back to the barn.
Soon all the horses were tied to the fences being groomed by all the people who love Paul. Their manes and tails braided with wild flowers. This is my first time riding bareback, I told Suzanne, who was grooming Paddy, a giant white retired carriage horse, next to me. I haven’t known Suzanne long. I met her when I went to Blue Star a couple of months ago and stayed at her house. We became easy friends and when I told her about Pamela’s plan she wanted to be a part of it too. Suzanne told me to hold on with my thighs and her confidence rubbed off on me. When it was time to go I watched the other riders climb the wooden fence to get on their horses and I did the same.
I wasn’t scared or nervous, I felt like I was where I should be. And I trusted we were all doing what we were supposed to be doing. Pamela, in her long flowered dress, top hat and colorful amazon feathers rode Piper, looking like a goddess, like displaced royalty. The horses are here to help us heal, she told us all. Listen to them, trust them.
So I did, I found my seat and trusted Luna and the power of the horses to work their magic. We came to the giant old pine, decorated now with flowers and ribbons, gifts and Paul’s drum with the Blue Horse painted on it, which he had long before he ever heard of Blue Star. And I felt I understood why Paul chose this place to die. The tree felt wise and safe to me. Being in its presence was like being home. And now it had become something else. A memorial, a marker, a witness.
The ride itself was full of life. As we passed under some low hanging branches in the woods, I had the feeling we were crossing a threshold. Being ushered into this new phase of life at Blue Star. Ritual helps get us from one place to another. It’s not magic, it doesn’t d0 the work of making the change happen. But it marks the passage with the expectation of change and hope.
After the ride, I felt an energy surging through me like I’ve never felt before. I felt grounded and confident, like anything was possible. What a gift, I thought, to come from such sadness. Now it’s for me to keep it alive and pass it on.
9 thoughts on “Procession for Paul”
i only met Paul a handful of times when he was in NYC for various events. He had such a sweet gentleness about him and I knew from the first time we met he was a special kind of man. He had a warmth and caring nature..he was a ver y special man who will be missed very much by so many. Rest in peace
You’re right Jaynee, Paul was a gentle and caring man. Always there to help. A beautiful spirit.
You look fabulous, Maria! Just like you had been doing this all your life. I use to ride when I was young. It was my passion. I had also ridden bareback. There is just something in the heart and soul that made me love it so. I am now in my 7th decade of life and haven’t ridden for a long time. It would be nice to do it once again before I leave this earth.
Do it Trella! Even if you just sit there.
This bareback ride , while under such sad circumstance, is a most wonderful experience for you. I could not be more excited for you, to have gone on perhaps your first real trail ride. Horses can take us places we could never walk. The ultimate sense of freedom and being one with the horse and nature. Your confidence was evident in the pictures Jon shared. May you have many safe rides on Chloe . You are a very amazing woman!
I never thought of it that way, so beautiful Betty. the idea that horses take us places we can’ never walk. THanks for that.
Maria, Hugs ! You look so dignified and like you belong on Luna. Bareback is the best in my opinion as you truly feel with your horse. Thank you for sharing this very difficult time with such kindness and respect. xo
Such courage and beauty are in your writing about this time. Thank you for sharing them.