When I first saw her that early July morning, I thought she was just a piece of paper blown into the paddock of our mare, Krissy. Walking closer, I saw it was bird, a dove.
Leaning on the fence, I watched her. She seemed remarkably at home; head bobbing as she strutted in the soil, pecking for food between Krissy’s legs - unbothered by the 15 hand, sorrel towering above her.
In the next paddock, our new buckskin gelding, Ty, grazed peacefully. This was his first morning with us; and an answer to my wife’s prayer for a show horse.
I had chores to do and did not give it much thought until the following morning. Not seeing her, I assumed she had flown away. But, as I walked into the stables, I heard an unfamiliar cooing sound. Glancing above Krissy’s stall, I saw the dove, perched in the loft, bobbing her head, looking down.
During the days that followed, we would spot her flitting between the paddocks and the hay barn and after a week, we decided the dove had decided to call our farm her new home. As we are horse people, this was a new experience. Regardless we claimed her as our newest family member.
Naming her came easily. She had shown up the day after we brought Ty home. Ty had three white socks. The dove was white. She would be called Socks, after Ty’s missing sock on his front fore leg.
The summer passed quickly, Socks, the horses and ourselves falling into familiar family routines. Socks shared the horses’ grain and greeted us each morning with her soft coos from Krissy’s loft. During the afternoon, she would graze with the horses or settle atop the hay barn. And, just before dusk, she would perch herself on the dormer above our garage, as if watching our return from work.
When she saw our truck, she would take flight and circle above the house and fly back to the barn, her small white body turning gold in the setting sun, flying to tell her barn buddies the folks were safe and back at home.
Socks had bonded with us all, horses included. She was now simply family. A kindred soul content just to be with us, sharing life. A simple precious detail, a silent proclamation that all was right with the world.
As things go, our daughter was to be married in Maui, Hawaii in October; and in early September, we began preparations for our trip. We would need to board the horses for our two-week absence. Likewise, we were concerned for the welfare of Socks and asked a neighbor to care for her while away.
It was cold, late and raining the night we returned from our daughter’s wedding. My wife and I were anxious about Sock’s well being. As our driver’s yellow lights flashed into our driveway, I smiled. Socks was sitting on our sidewalk, head bobbing, looking around – the way I remembered her in the paddock that one early July morning.
Jumping from the limousine, I picked her up. I could feel her tiny heart beating ever so quickly in my hands. My wife cuddled her for a moment and I took her back to the stable to feed her. And, to make sure she was safe, I closed the barn door. It was the last time I was to ever see her.
Our neighbor said that Socks seemed to swoon when we left. She hardly ate and rarely left the barn. My heart ached at those words. I felt I had I betrayed this tiny creature who had purposefully adopted us - trusting her life to our care and companionship.
I brought this grief to God in prayer the following evening. He told me to look out our bedroom window. In the moonlight, Ty and Krissy, tails twitching to some unheard melody, peacefully grazed in their paddocks.
Peering into that quiet darkness a tiny white light rose from the ground fog and disappeared. A fleeting light, too brief to be of consequence, but too beautiful to be ignored - like Socks herself.
Counseling me in the gloom, God revealed that in this circle of life it is the simple moments we share that give it purpose – they are what add up to make us whole. Each moment is precious. He did not make us to hold on to them, but only to be blessed as He brought them into our everyday lives.
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