Reflections on the Story of Wind-Rider

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In our culture, wives, husbands, the elderly, the disabled, the mentally challenged, the broken,  are so often cast aside when they allow vulnerability to seep into our lives. Their scars remind us of our own scars of which we can’t bear to be reminded. What do we lose by casting them aside? What do we gain when we accept and care for the broken?

Casting the broken aside we lose a bit of our own soul, for when we cast them aside we cast a piece of our own humanity aside as well.

Accepting and caring for the broken we gain compassion, patience, and wisdom as the broken teach us about our own vulnerabilities and our need for one another.

The Sign of the Scar

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Our story, called “The Scars of a Friend”, tells what happens when ‘the broken’ are accepted rather than cast aside and forgotten. In our last post  Azhar took Wind-Rider home and cared for him.

The snows of winter melted and green grass poked through the brown earth. Wind-Rider sniffed the spring air and fidgeted in his stall. Pleased that his horse’s energy and spirit had returned, Azhar took Wind-Rider to the pasture and turned him loose.

As Wind-Rider frisked about, Azhar leaned over the fence and laughed with delight. One warm afternoon, Azhar decided to take the horse for a ride. He climbed onto the stallion’s back and the two trotted out onto the ridge.

A soft breeze tousled Azhar’s hair as Wind-Rider gradually picked up speed and galloped along the path. The familiar sense of power returned to Azhar, but now this feeling was tinged with a  deeper understanding of what had been gained and what had been lost.

When Wind-Rider inevitably grew tired, Azhar slipped off the stallion’s back without regret. He saw the ragged scar on the horse’s flank and didn’t cringe. The blemish was no longer a painful reminder of loss. Instead, it was a sign of endurance and a testament to what he and his horse had earned through perseverance.

Azhar reached out his hand and gently stroked the scar. Then he walked the horse back to the stable. Azhar and Wind-Rider enjoyed many more years of love and loyalty together, accepting each other’s brokenness and scars without reservation.

Healing

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Our story, called “The Scars of a Friend”, tells what happens when ‘the broken’ are accepted rather than cast aside and forgotten. In our last post , confronted by the townspeople regardng Wind-Rider’s condition, Azhar promised to personally care for the horse.

Azhar grabbed the old leather bridle and gently led the animal through the crowd. He slowly trudged up the hill, carefully guiding the gaunt stallion, and he recalled that night, so long ago, when Wind-Rider had fought off the bandits. The long-hidden memory of his panic surfaced, and he remembered how he shook with fear as Wind-Rider courageously rode through the darkness.

Azhar brought Wind-Rider into his old stall and wrapped the horse in a blanket. He called for the stable master. “Show me how to make a warm mash. My horse is starving.” He listened closely to the instructions, mixed the food, and held the bucket for the hungry horse.

That night Azhar slept in the stall with his horse. The next day, he spent hours brushing Wind-Rider’s dull coat and combing the burrs and snarls from his tangled mane and tail.

Azhar worked side by side with the stable master and learned how to care for his horse. He rubbed liniment into Wind-Rider’s aching joints, cleaned the animal’s damaged hooves, and spoon-fed him a special tonic that he made himself.

Each and every day, he came to the stable and tended to Wind-Rider’s needs. Working in the stable gave Azhar a great deal of satisfaction, and he was proud of his newly developed skills and abilities. Azhar found that he looked forward to spending time with Wind-Rider, and he rummaged through the kitchen to find special treats for the animal, bringing him carrots, apples, and lumps of brown sugar. Slowly, under Azhar’s tender care, Wind-Rider’s strength returned.

 Next time: “The Sign of the Scar”

Azhar’s Promise

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Our story, called “The Scars of a Friend”, tells what happens when ‘the broken’ are accepted rather than cast aside and forgotten. In our last post Azhar’s wounded and forgotten horse, Wind-Rider, escaped over the fence, spent time foraging in the forest, and finally wound up at the town meeting bell where his hoof hit the meeting bell and summoned the townspeople to an unexpected meeting.

Despite the cold, the townspeope sat on the benches and listened. “Let us fetch Azhar,” they said.

Two of the strongest men were chosen. They climbed the rocky path that led to Azhar’s mansion and pounded on the huge wooden doors.

Surprisingly, Azhar himself answered the door. He looked questioningly at the two men. “The bell rung. You have been summoned to the town square,” said the two men emphatically.

Azhar’s eyes narrowed slightly, but he understood that it was his duty to go. As he donned his fur coat, he asked the men, “Can you tell  me what this is about?”

“It’s about one of your horses,” they replied. Azhar walked silently through the chilly night as he followed the men into the village and up to the bell tower.

At the sound of Azhar’s footsteps, Wind-Rider’s ears flicked and the horse raised its head. The assembled crowd turned toward Azhar. An old woman stood up and, facing Azhar, spoke, “Look at your horse, Azhar! Look at Wind-Rider!”

Azhar did not move as he peered at the faded form of his once mighty stallion. He saw the scar, the rail-thin body, the matted mane and tail. He also saw the stable boy’s hands, one clutching the bridle, the other caressing the muzzle of the horse. He remembered a time when only he could clasp the bridle, when Wind-Rider bristled at a stranger’s touch. The villagers gathered around the horse and master.

The old woman continued. “This is your horse, a horse that remained faithful to you and saved your life. In return you ignored it. You must take Wind-Rider back to your stable. Azhar, you must promise to take care of your horse. You, Azhar, not your stable boy, not the stable master, must care for this horse.”

Azhar nodded his head, I will do as you say. I promise.”

What will happen to Wind-Rider back in Azhar’s care?

Next time: Healing

Escaped!

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Our story, called “The Scars of a Friend”, tells what happens when ‘the broken’ are accepted rather than cast aside and forgotten. In our last post Azhar could no longer enjoy his wild rides with Wind Rider due to the wounded horse’s diminished strength. What will become of Wind-Rider now?

Azhar came to the horse’s stall less and less often, until finally he no longer visited Wind-Rider. With no one to ride him, the animal was turned out to pasture. Wind-Rider remained eager to run. The stallion’s pent-up energy surged beyond the limits of the fence. One day he came upon some downed fence posts, leaped over them and escaped into the wild hills.

At first, Wind-Rider was able to find shelter and food in those hills. However, an unusually harsh winter set in. He browsed the tips of pine trees and pawed the frozen earth looking for hidden roots, but there was little food to eat.

The outline of his ribs became visible through his ragged coat. The trees and rocks offered scant shelter from the bitter wind, and the horse’s bony frame shivered with the cold.

In desperation, Wind-Rider made his way out of the hills into town, looking for food and warmth. He wandered into the center of the village and began to scrape the rocky soil underneath the bell tower, searching for roots to eat. His hoof struck the bell rope and a single distinct note pierced the night.

As Wind-Rider continued to strike the ground, the bell rang out loud and clear. When the villagers heard the bell, they put on their coats and shawls, grabbed lanterns, and made their way to the town square. The night was chilly and damp; flakes of frost hung in the air. The villagers held their lamps high and in the glittering darkness tried to make out the strange figure under the bell tower.

“Who is there”? they called out, but received only a soft snort in reply.

“Why it’s a horse ringing the bell,” someone said, and they began to chuckle.

“It’s not just any horse,” said a young man. “It’s Wind-Rider.”

“No,” said a village merchant, “this can’t be Wind-Rider. Look at his dull coat, his tangled mane. Why, his ribs are showing.”

“Ahh, look again,” said an old woman. “No other horse has a dappled gray coat with a black mane and tail.” As the townspeople moved closer, the horse remained strangely quiet.

“But how can such a thing be possible? He is the favorite horse of Azhar,” said someone else.

“I work in Azhar’s stable,” said the young man who had identified Wind-Rider. He took an apple out of his coat pocket and offered it to the horse. As Wind-Rider chomped noisily on the apple, the stable hand grasped his bridle and related the story.

“One night Master Azhar and Wind-Rider were riding through the forest when they were attacked by a band of thieves. Wind-Rider trampled the bandits and fled to safety. He saved Azhar’s life, but received a cut to his flank from which he never fully recovered. He was never the same again and could not run as before. Azhar ignored him and turned him out to pasture. When the horse ran away, the Master never even went to look for him. He seemed relieved that the horse had disappeared from sight.”

What will the towns people do about Wind Rider?

Next time: Azhar’s Promise

What Azhar Lost

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Our story, called “The Scars of a Friend”, tells what happens when ‘the broken’ are accepted rather than cast aside and forgotten. In our last post Azhar  and his horse, Wind -Rider, encountered robbers in the forest that wounded Wind Rider and took something very valuable from Azhar. Let’s find out what they stole.

Wind-Rider’s wound took a long time to heal. Azhar visited the horse daily but he did not linger long. The ragged slash in the horse’s flesh glared out at him, and he could not bring himself to run his hand over the horse’s blemished body. He relegated the task of grooming Wind-Rider to a stable boy.

Without the passion of those wild rides, his days dulled into a gray routine and he began to grow restless. “When will Wind-Rider be ready to ride?” he inquired of the stable master, his voice edged with impatience.

Finally, Wind-Rider seemed strong enough to be ridden. Azhar gingerly mounted his stallion, carefully avoiding the jagged red scar that had replaced the gaping wound.

As Wind-Rider galloped out onto the familiar ridge, his master felt the wind’s caress on his face. A delighted smile lit up his face as he closed his eyes and breathed in the fresh salt air. The stallion sprinted across the ridge eagerly with his head held high, but after a few miles, it was obvious to Azhar that his horse did not run with the same vigor and vitality as before.

Wind-Rider grew tired and slowed his pace. Azhar urged the horse on, but Wind-Rider began to breathe heavily and they were forced to return to the stable. Azhar was determined to regain the pleasure of those unruly excursions before Wind Rider was injured. Day after day, he took Wind-Rider out for short rides, hoping to build the horse’s strength, but the stallion’s stamina did not return.

The horse’s diminished might deprived Azhar of more than fearless rides into the wilderness. It was as if the slash to Wind-Rider’s flesh had allowed vulnerability to seep into Azhar’s life. Wind-Rider became a painful reminder of what Azhar had lost.

What will become of Azhar and his horse?

Next Time: “Escaped!”

What the Robbers Stole

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Our story, called “The Scars of a Friend”, tells what happens when ‘the broken’ are accepted rather than cast aside and forgotten. In our last post Azhar  named his new stallion “Wind Rider.” Where will this beautiful beast take him?

One evening, Azhar and Wind-Rider were returning home after a long business trip. Wind-swept clouds sailed across the moon’s full face. Azhar decided to take a shortcut through the forest because they had been riding for most of the day.

Moonlight edged through the tangle of trees as Azhar guided Wind-Rider along the patch where shadows flickered wildly. Suddenly, six robbers carrying spears and knives jumped out from behind the trees. Three were on horseback and three were on foot. Two of the men rushed forward and tried to grab Wind-Rider by the bridle. When Wind-Rider felt a stranger’s hand on his bridle, he reared up, slashing the air with his huge hooves as Azhar held tight to the reins. His hooves smashed into the thieves and knocked them to the ground.

Another bandit ran toward the horse with his spear raised. Wind-Rider rushed right at him and toppled the outlaw with his huge, broad chest. Aware that the trees held danger, the stallion dashed forward and began to race through the forest. The mounted thieves pursued Azhar and his horse, but they were no match for Wind-Rider.

Sweating and out of breath, Wind-Rider reached the safety of the stable yard. Azhar quickly dismounted, but when he did, he saw that his faithful steed had been wounded. A horrible gash lay acorss the animal’s left flank. Blood pured out of the cut, streaming down its leg and matting the horse’s tail.

Azhar bellowed out for the stable master to come quickly. When he arrived, Azhar wailed, “Look at my horse. You must do something!” Azhar stood off to one side as the stable master tenderly washed and dressed the horse’s wound. He recounted the terrifying details of the evening’s events.

“You owe your life to this horse!” replied the stable master. Azhar stretched out on the straw in Wind-Rider’s stall to sleep but he could not close his eyes, for the night was punctuated by the pain-filled whinnies of his wounded steed. In the pale morning light, Azhar arose. He stared at his horse’s marred flank and shuddered.

How will Azhar treat his wounded horse?

Next time: “What Azhar Lost”

 

Wind-Rider

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Our story, called “The Scars of a Friend”, tells what happens when ‘the broken’ are accepted rather than cast aside and forgotten. In our last post Azhar met a glorious stallion and  was taken on a wild ride. What will Azhar do with the horse?

As the day began to lose its light, horse and rider cantered into the stable yard. Azhar did not call for the stable master to attend to his horse, as was his usual custom. Instead, he slipped from the horse’s back, gently clasped its bridle, and led the stallion into the stall closest to the house, the one that had remained empty for so long.

He took the currycomb and as he brushed away the dirt and dust, he could feel the beat of the horse’s heart, hear the rhythm of its breath. “You run as if you are riding the wind,” he whispered. “That’s what I shall call you: Wind Rider.”

After that, Wind-Rider was the only horse that Azhar would ride. He never put a saddle on the horse, never allowed anyone else to groom or ride him. When Wind-Rider heard Azhar’s footsteps in the yard, his ears pricked up. He leaned his head over the stall gate and greeted his master with a soft whinny. Every day the two would ride out into the untamed places. Fishermen watched as they galloped along the gravel beach where the surf crashed into the craggy cliffs. The villagers looked up and saw horse and rider silhouetted against the pale sky as they rode along the ridge. Soon everyone in that town knew that the dapple-gray horse who had run away from the red-sailed ship had found a home in Azhar’s stable.

What will become of these soul mates?

Next time: “What the Robbers Stole”

The Meeting

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We continue our story called “The Scars of a Friend” that tells what happens when ‘the broken’ are accepted rather than cast aside and forgotten. In our last post Azhar, the wealthy merchant was looking for the perfect horse to fill out his grand stable.

One morning, a huge three-masted ship with blood-red sails slipped through the mist and entered the harbor. A majestic stallion emerged from beneath the deck. The animal was restless after being confined and began to stomp his hooves and tug on the reins that were held tightly in his trainer’s hands.

The horse reared up on its hind legs and uttered a shrill whinny that pierced the damp air. The people on the wharf turned toward the sound. Through the fog they saw a horse quite unlike any they had ever seen before. It was dapple-gray with a jet-black mane and a tail that curled like ocean waves. It stood so tall that its obsidian hooves seemed to scrape the sky.

The trainer enlisted the help of a nearby sailor. The sailor grabbed hold of the bridle while the trainer gripped the reins. With great difficulty, the two men led the uneasy horse onto the dock and up the path toward the village.

When the horse sensed the openness of the market square, it lurched forward and broke free from the men’s grasp. The gray stallion charged through the village and galloped up the path that led to Azhar’s house.

When the stallion broke free, Azhar watched from the edge of his veranda. The horse raced up the path, its reins flapping in the air. Azhar could see the strength ripple through its muscles as his mighty hooves hammered against the earth. His keen gaze followed the horse as it rounded the bend and climbed the rocky incline toward his house. It showed no signs of stopping. Azhar took a deep breath and opened his doors wide. The horse bounded up the porch steps and bolted into the house.

In a whirlwind of fury, the stallion thrashed and kicked, smashing tables and splintering chairs. Azhar crept across the threshold and inched his way toward the horse. The horse snorted and stomped its foot. Azhar held his breath and did not move. When the stallion finally raised its head toward Azhar, the man tentatively stretched out his hand and gently stroked the horse’s velvety muzzle.

Azhar leaned over, caught the reins, and vaulted onto the horse’s back. He urged the stallion through the open doors and the horse leapt off the porch. Together they rode out onto the ridge that overlooked the sea. Azhar felt the echo of the surf in the hoof beats of the horse as it thundered across the ground. They left the path and rode into the wild hills. The horse never tired. Time disappeared for Azhar. He felt as if nothing in the world could harm him.

What will Azhar do with this wonderful horse?

Next time: “Wind Rider”

Accepting the Broken

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American culture glorifies and idolizes beautiful and powerful people. The paparazzi gather at the door of Brad and Angelina, not at the cardboard boxes of the homeless or at the wheelchairs of the disabled. The beautiful are exalted but the broken are cast aside and forgotten.

Over the next several posts I am going to share a story of possibility, a story that shows what is possible when the broken are accepted rather than cast aside. I am calling this story “The Scars of a Friend” it is a condensed and adapted version of a story called “Catch-the-Wind” from a wonderful book by Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi called Wisdom in the Telling. Finding Inspiration and Grace in Traditional Folktales and Myths Retold.

So let’s begin the story of “The Scars of a Friend”

Once there was a village rooted in rugged, green hills that reached into the sea like stony fingers. Their rocky banks sheltered a busy harbor with ships that sailed to and from nearby ports. The people of this town were fair-minded and wished to live together peacefully. In the center of town, they constructed a simple tower made of four sturdy timbers, topped by a red-tiled roof. Inside the tower they hung a large bell with a rope that dangled onto the ground. Around the bell tower they placed a row of solid wooden benches. “Anyone of us who feels wronged can come and ring this bell,” the people declared. “When the bell rings, we will gather on these benches, listen to the person’s story, and settle the dispute.”

Outside of the village, perched on a hill that rose high above everything else, stood the magnificent house of the wealthy merchant Azhar. At the front of the house, two ornately carved wooden doors opened out onto a wide porch made of thick oak planks. Tall cedar pillars stretched from the porch like ancient trees to support the great tiled roof that capped the house. Azhar could hear the faint peals of the bell from that porch. He knew what the pealing of the bell meant and accepted its necessity, but he never joined the villagers. He preferred to stand on his porch and peer down into the town to observe the comings and goings of the people below.

Azhar surrounded himself with valuable things. His house was filled with fine brocades, gold and silver plates, exquisite works of art. Azhar was very proud of all these possessions, but nothing gave him more pleasure than his stable of horses. His stable was almost as grand as his house and contained the finest horses in the land. Each animal was a flawless specimen of a particular breed. All the stalls, save one, were filled. Azhar was still searching for the perfect horse to occupy the empty space.

Will Azhar find the perfect horse? If he does, how will it affect his life?

Next time: “The Meeting”