Monday, October 25, 2010

Watched Empty Water Troughs Never Fill

You know that saying, a watched pot never boils?

Well guess what? Did you know that a watched empty water trough never fills?!

It's true. While I was at the barn, one of the water troughs in a pasture behind the barn needed to be filled. We were able to hook up the hoses, and they just barely reached. They just barely reached enough that someone had to stand there and hold the hose. I didn't volunteer for the job but just assumed the hose holder job position for the evening.

I've done it enough times that I don't even care anymore that I have to stay stationary for who knows how long. And people usually filter away, leaving one alone with the hose, empty trough, and what seems like an impossible feat to accomplish.

Depending on water pressure and the length the water has to travel from the spigot, you could be out there for a while. We usually just put enough hose into the trough so that we can walk away and do other tasks, but this time, that was not in the realm of possibilities. I literally could only place about 2-3 inches of the hose inside the trough. And like usual, I ended up standing out there in solitude.

Sometimes the monotony of filling/cleaning water troughs is broken up by friendly and always welcomed visits from whoever is in the pasture. This time, though, I received no such visit from Chester and Dodge, who were happily munching on hay that was on the other side of the pasture.

For the first time ever in my history of filling water troughs, I actually took my block of time and lack of distractions and did something productive. I just kind of meandered a prayer along, if you can imagine that. I don't even remember what it was about. But it was apparently a good time because God knew (though I did not) that I was listening. And then, smack!, I realized something. Rather, I learned something.

Patience is a really beautiful thing to have, to witness, to be. You also must put in effort if you want to have it and to be it.

I know that I have been given countless opportunities to learn this amazingly simple piece of knowledge, but it only really sunk in while I was at the barn. You see, before I had to fill the water trough, we had to bring in all of the horses for the night.

We went out to the pasture to bring in some of the boys. Two of them, Jessie and Frankie, were at the very back of the pasture. I purposefully grabbed the tiniest halter/lead rope because I knew who it belonged to. Usually I just grab whichever halter my hand lands on or whichever horse that I know no one else wants to bring in, but that night I deliberately sought out Frankie's halter as I walked up to the fence line.

Frankie is a little 6 month old colt. He is part of a group of 4 that came in about 3 weeks ago. The puzzling thing about this scenario for me is that Frankie's mother was nowhere to be found when Horse Haven went out to pick up the group. It's my understanding that she wasn't out there, that Frankie was probably taken from his momma very early. You can wean a horse as little as 4 months according to some, and I guess that's what happened.

Anyway, I learned that before I saw him. When I finally saw him, I couldn't believe that somebody so little was having to brave the world alone. He's just so tiny, so small. He hardly seems old enough to be alone. I guess I'm just used to seeing mommas and babies together when they come here, and even then they're still together for awhile. Frankie is very weak due to a lack of proper care and nutrition. Because he hasn't been eating properly, his whole growth situation is all wonky.

God, I hope that little boy makes it. I came home from the barn the evening I met him, and I cried while saying a prayer. It's not fair. He deserves a chance to live. And he has been given that chance now that he's with Horse Haven.

He's been with us for 3-ish weeks, and on the slow re-feeding program, he appears to be getting better. He's still "slow out of the gate" but he hobbles along. He is a very spunky little guy when his personality shows.

Which brings me to the reason I mentioned Frankie. When I grabbed his halter and saw that he was way out back, I knew that we would take some time getting to the barn. Frankie quite literally has to take those small, baby steps. I told the others to go ahead and walk down to the barn, that we would be a little slow and not to bother waiting for us. While we walked, I talked to Frankie, guiding him along, though I'm sure he would follow anyone of us just like puppies would. He's incredibly trusting, given his circumstances. "We're in no hurry little steps...good boy!...we'll get there when we get there, no worries."

And I really meant all that I said. For once, in what feels like a long time, I honestly was in no hurry. And neither was Frankie. We plodded along with not a care in the world. When we finally reached the barn door, most everyone was there waiting, all gooey/ga-ga eyed over the sweetest little colt we've ever know the drill. I walked into the stall, shut the door, and took the lead rope off. Then he whinnied at me! "I know what time it is go get my food please!" There is that personality I was telling you about.

My walk with Frankie was the epitome of a lesson in patience. I couldn't and wouldn't do anything to make him go faster. And I didn't feel like I had to. There was no rush. It felt incredibly good to just walk at Frankie's pace.

That night, I wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary, just the normal chores to do. Each time I go out to the barn, I walk away feeling like I did something good, that I helped the horses. This time though, they helped me. Frankie, specifically, was my teacher. I'm always in a hurry. Always have to get this done now, not later (for the most part anyway). Always have to be early, not on time, early. Always going faster faster faster.

Learning to be patient with Frankie was the real meat of the lesson. Standing silently and patiently filling the water trough was icing on the cake. It gave me time to think about the lesson God was teaching me at that moment.

Sometimes God teaches us invaluable lessons through the most mundane, mediocre jobs out there. I would know. It seems as if I learn a lot that way, actually.

I thank the Lord for empty water troughs that never seem to fill, hoses that just barely reach, and 6 month old colts. Without them, I would never learn anything.


Candice said...

You know what's really funny? An unwatched water trough filling up ALWAYS overflows! I can never time it just right to get there when it's perfectly full. I go back and check on it and it's not full yet, then go back a few minutes later and it's running over...Ugh! LOL!

Sr. Ann Marie said...

It's strange but your story about Frankie reminded me of an experience I had this summer volunteering with our retired sisters. The first morning I was there I was asked to go to the unit with the sisters who have Altzheimer's Disease. I was a bit leary about it because I wasn't sure what to expect. I was asked to feed breakfast to one of the sisters who needed help. It was such an awesome experience--one thatis hard to describe--and each morning I asked if I could go back to help her. It took about an hour and 15 minutes each day to feed her a small amount of scrambled eggs and either a small pancake or a piece of french toast. and a little juice. She never spoke. But occasionally, as I talked to her, she rewarded me with the most beautiful smile you'd ever want to see. Each morning when I left her, I kissed her and several times felt just the very faintest return of a kiss. She died a few weeks ago but the memory of those morning breakfasts will always be with me.

Ashley Siferd said...

You're right Candice! Unwatched water troughs always overfill, haha :)

Sr. Ann Marie, that is a beautiful story. I'm glad you have those wonderful memories, thanks for sharing.