Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39 (ESV)
So, I had a bright idea just before G. came for his riding lesson on Sunday. Because husband was mowing the front pasture where he usually rides, I thought I would let him go out on the road. I figured that if I was walking beside Trucker while G. rode, Trucker would be fine walking even further away from the barn than he usually goes. With his dad on one side and me on the other, G. confidently rode out the gate and Trucker didn’t hesitate. It was a beautiful afternoon, cool enough for a walk, but not so cold as to be uncomfortable. The three of us talked, Trucker rotated his ears as though he were listening and his barn mates didn’t even call to us. They were busy with the hay that I left in their stalls. We walked around the corner and down Sunset Lane, then, turned the corner onto Bayshore Road. I was just thinking that I should put Trucker on a lead line before we went any farther, when he put the brakes on, spun around and took off towards home. I asked him to go just a little bit too far. G.’s dad and I tried to follow on foot, but Trucker quickly outpaced us. G. was still on him, hollering, “Whoa, Trucker! Whoa! Dadddddddd…” I started praying even as I ran, “God, please don’t let him fall off.” G. has never fallen before, and I didn’t want the first time to be on the asphalt. Nor did I want him to get hurt. Husband came along testing a motorcycle he had been working on. I blurted out the situation and husband took off, eventually catching and stopping Trucker. Thankfully before G. fell off. Husband thinks G. was scared, but when I finally caught up to them, all G. could talk about was how cool it was to gallop. I was just grateful he hadn’t fallen. Everyone looked at me cross eyed when I hooked Trucker up to the lead line and made the two of them retrace their steps and go past where Trucker turned around. He needed to know that he was not in charge. That he had to mind G. no matter what. We finished the second trek, very tired, but determined. G. and Trucker had learned a lesson. So had I. I will do things a lot different if there is a next time. After I got over the shakes and the obsessing over what might have happened, I started wondering if it might have been better if G. had fallen off. Not on the pavement, but in the grass on the side of the road. I wouldn’t wish him to be hurt at all, but would he have learned from his fall? Would he have an increased sense of wonder when that 1,000 pound beast behaved with only a rope and a metal bit? Would he have been able to say, “Done that, but I love riding so much, I am willing to risk it again?” Would he have a renewed respect for the horse and be more careful? Would he be more confident, less afraid of falling? Of course, that’s easy for me to say. I’m not his mom. I wouldn’t have cared for him if he had gotten hurt. But, still, I wonder. I wondered even more after reading the following quote in Leaving Church,the current book I am reading by Barbara Brown Taylor. ”If I had to name my disability, I would call it an unwillingness to fall. On the one hand, this is perfectly normal. I do not know anyone who likes to fall. But, on the other hand, this reluctance signals mistrust of the central truth of the Christian gospel: life springs from death, not only at the last but also in the many little deaths along the way. When everything you count on for protection has failed, the Divine Presence does not fail. The hands are still there— not promising to rescue, not promising to intervene— promising only to hold you no matter how far you fall. Ironically, those who try hardest not to fall learn this later than those who topple more easily. The ones who find their lives are the losers, while the winners come in last.” I wonder.