We were practicing to get the pattern just right. Over and over we went, thru the steps of the pattern. Each step was carefully communicated around the cones. A little twist of my seat on the saddle – she begins her turn. A careful stopping of my movement – she beautifully responds with her stop. A soft upward shift with my seat – she quietly walks forward. A little touch of my heel – she gentle offers a soft bend. I put a soft boundary in the reins so the bend is not too big – she willingly stays within the line of the pattern.
A little improvement, then a substantial improvement, then backwards to the beginning. When will this horse get the steps figured out? When can I relax and just enjoy walking out the pattern? Still so much attention needed to each detail.
We continue practicing the pattern.
Wait. What did I just feel?
It was wonderful! Quietly, softly, deliberately she goes through the pattern. Shiloh is getting it! How I wish I had a video running – she must look amazing walking this pattern. Others would see the beauty. They would enjoy watching the pattern being walked out so intentionally by this magnificent horse.
But . . .
Empty . . .
We have been practicing and practicing this pattern together. We have finally arrived at the beauty of the pattern on display. But empty? How did that feeling come into my heart?
Searching deep as to the why of the “empty” . . .
Step by step retracing the process of learning the pattern. Back. Back. Back. Shiloh was doing amazing work – on her own. Walking the pattern out perfectly all by herself. The empty shows up – the pattern became just a pattern to walk out.
She didn’t need to listen anymore – she knew the pattern and it seemed wonderful.
But something in our relationship changed. I was just a rider on a horse walking out a pattern.
Empty. No connection needed.
Why? What entered my mind was my years of church going. I have gone to church all my life. Everyone saw me walk out the wonderful pattern. But going to the church gradually seemed empty. A feeling I became familiar with so it became normal to me, I guess. Why was it empty? It was very much an important pattern!
Oh, my heart! In this pattern-practicing with Shiloh I experienced this “church-going-emptiness” more clearly. Did going to church become just a pattern? Go to the church and do what I was taught to do. What had I practiced for years? I was doing the good work. But somewhere I must have stopped listening and was just doing the pattern on my own. I am not talking about listening with my ears – I am talking about the deep places of my heart listening and connecting to my Trainer. The listening that fills. Nobody else would have noticed that the listening had stopped. The pattern was so well practiced.
So – I stopped going. Yes, I really just stopped going to the church. I didn’t want to just walk a pattern. I struggled with my feelings about not going to the church. My pattern didn’t look good to others any more. I was told “shame on you”. When I was asked where I went to church I would honestly answer “nowhere” – their looks were puzzled and a little confused that I was off pattern. How could I do what I do if I didn’t go to the church – didn’t practice the pattern?
But I felt drawn to change my pattern. With the “guilt” of changing the pattern, I was struggling to find His pattern to practice. I felt the empty begin to fill. I was being invited to the deep place of His filling, His delight in my search of connecting, His joy just in me – not learning a new pattern but practicing a filling.
Shiloh – I will keep changing the pattern – no more practicing of a pattern. I will do this changing often so you keep the need to listen carefully – to stay connected. Maybe nobody else will see the beauty of no pattern – but we will feel the filling – the listening to fill – just you and me. Connecting with the attention to each detail needed.
Back to church I go – but with the absence of pattern. Enjoying the “heart filling” of listening.
April 2020 – the government says to stay home – no going to the church for awhile because of the covid-19 virus. Ummm . . . now thankful for an opportunity to practice not practicing a pattern – to focus on the practice of connected filling with my Father.
On His trail –
Roxanne Van Riessen