I host a horse show where people demonstrate their relationships with their equine partners through navigating various obstacles. The obstacles are often times frightening to the horse, because the horse does not fully comprehend the obstacles in our human world. Through overcoming these obstacles, the horse and human grow a stronger bond and connection with not only one another, but also with their selves.
The first time I saw her I was in the middle of an arena judging one of these obstacle competitions. She and her Horse, Ody were navigating the obstacle course. As they made their way around they reached one of the most difficult obstacles in the show. A man-made water box. The horse cannot see the bottom of the box through the water, so as first they assume it has no bottom and that to step in it would ensure certain death. The thought of this frightened Ody and he began to dance around, his nervous energy spewing out of him as he desperately tried to avoid the dreaded water box. Often times in a situation like this, the human will attempt to dominate the horse, attempt to force his 1000 pounds to bend to their will. But not Frances. As Ody‘s nervous energy swelled I watched Frances’s body do the exact opposite. She dropped her gaze to the ground, she let her shoulders drape low, she soften her presence to the point of resembling a standing meditative figure. At first Ody did not seem to notice her, he was too blinded by his false perception of the bottomless pit, but it was not long before his energy began to soften as well, as he began to mirror his partner, his friend, his guide – his Frances.
They did not cross the water box that day, but what Frances did was far more instrumental in growth of their relationship. Frances knew that in that moment what Ody needed was not her domination from the outside in. What he needed was her peaceful, guiding light that grew from the inside out. Frances did for Ody what she often did for students, for teachers and for so many others in her life as well – she modeled the emotion, the energy, the light – she modeled what she wanted Ody to be – from the inside out. – and by the way, he later did cross the water box and won many first places at our shows, though it was never the competition that motivated them.
Frances did not live from the outside in, she lived from the inside out. Frances did not allow her circumstances to define her, rather she defined new circumstances.
I am certain there were many terrifying water boxes that Frances could not see the bottom of – but one thing she told me time and again was that if you were afraid that it was a good thing – it was a sign you were headed to something new, headed for growth for change. I can hear her say it right now – “If you are scared then you are headed for something BIG.” – and I’ll admit it, I am scared. I know we are all feeling afraid in some ways right now – We wanted her spirit to stay in the vessel we recognize for a bit longer – So we could easily recognize her voice, her phone call – her advice, but our fear is a simply sign that we are headed in the right direction. That change is life and change is a gift.
I want to close with a story that embraces Frances so much.
I was doing a demo for the county fair with the Mustangs and Frances came out to support it. She was standing with Mike and Filleigh Kay, who was then 3 years old. Filleigh Kay was so ready to go ride the rides and was having a hard time waiting for me to finish up. She was starting to get really upset when Frances said excitedly, “ LOOK! – Look at that!!!” as she pointed to something on the ground. Filleigh Kay immediately ran over to see what all the excitement was about as Frances bent over to pick up a very small piece of mulch. It was one of many little pieces of mulch that had been spread out to soak up the mud, but this particular one – this one piece had magical powers as Aunt Frances studied it. She said to “Filleigh Kay WOW – how do you think it got to be that small?” – they went on and on studying that little piece of wood until I was finished up and it was time to go ride the rides.
You know what I think? Frances may no longer occupy the vessel that we once knew, but I think her light, her being, her self – will be finding many vessels to occupy as she continues to guide this world to the light. It is our job, as her friends and her partners in the journey to keep an eye, an ear, a feel – open for her.
So please, do not say good bye, do not send her on her way and seal your hearts off from her. Instead open up to her now more than ever. Look for her everywhere – let her use your body to continue to guide this world to the light. She has always been well connected, but she has a heck of a vantage point now.
A spirit like Frances’ does not just go away simply because something as temporary as a mere physical vessel has worn out. Let her guide your feet through your deepest water boxes and let her guide your eyes to the most magical piece of mulch you have ever seen.