After all my waiting yesterday, we went. We left for Rapid City. Normally I would jump at the chance to go Rapid City. I like it. It has people, stores, and a completely different feel from much of the rest of the state. When I come to Rapid City I realize that the west is alive and well.
As I look at large men with large Stetsons and cowboy boots, I think of my own childhood. I grew up in the days of Wagon Train, Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, Wyatt Earp, Roy Rodgers, Bonanza, Rawhide and Annie Oakley. I dreamed of being a cowgirl like Annie Oakley.
I had a full red skirt with pompom fringe my mother had made for me. With my matching red vest, red cowgirl hat and my pistol in its holster, I would go in my backyard to practice twirling my pistol. I could twirl the cap gun, but never would my jump rope twirl. All the jump rope would do is wrap around my legs.
What did a Brooklyn NY cowgirl do for a horse? She had a stick horse of course! Very appropriate for riding in a backyard.
I road a real horse once when I was in the third grade. Believe it or not, there are stables in NYC. From Brooklyn, I ventured with my best friend Barbara (read more about her here) to rural Staten Island. Compared to Brooklyn, Staten Island was like going to the country.
I have never been coordinated. I had difficulty getting on the horse. I was terrified. All my aspirations to be a bareback rider were gone. I had brown corduroy pants with a paisley print on that day. Maybe if I had my red skirt and cowgirl hat on, I would have been brave.
The horse they gave me to ride was new to their stable. I think that meant it wasn’t fully broke in. They hadn’t named it yet. I suggested Rawhide after the TV show and they agreed. I wonder if they told that to all the little girls. I think they took pleasure in my greenhorned-ness. Crusty wranglers and scared little girls often don't mix.
I clutched the reins as we walked through the woods. I don’t think I did anything wrong, but then again, I’d never been on a horse before. Without warning, the horse left the trail. At what seemed like a gallop the horse tore through the woods; of course, I don’t know a gallop from a trot.
My pants, I think a favorite, ripped as branches cut into my knees. My face was badly scraped. A wrangler eventually subdued the horse. As a child, I was sure I was to blame. The wrangler agreed. I was defeated, hurt, embarrassed and vowed never to go on a horse again. I never have.
I still have a fantasy about riding a horse. I think I would still like to be a cowgirl. I think I would like some time alone with just the horse, God’s creation, and me.
I am alone. I am so alone in South Dakota. So how can more time alone be good for me? I think I’ve been missing the point. The alone time I need is not really to be alone. It is time with God; a time to let Him speak and for my ears to be expectantly open.
Today someone told me to find time alone with God. I hear and want to obey but my mind wants to wander. Just like the horse that decided to go off the path, risking my life; my mind likes to go far off the path.
The wrangler that day rescued me. While he was not kind, he still rescued me. He grabbed the reins and led the horse back to safety. Today I am trusting the Holy Spirit to take hold of the reins and lead me to safety. Maybe this is why the hymn Trust and Obey has been floating around in my head for days.