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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Email: jackereynolds@yahoo.com


December 13, 2008

ONLY FOR LOVE A CHRISTMAS STORY

ONLY FOR LOVE

A brother and sister had made their usual hurried, obligatory pre-Christmas
visit to the little farm where their elderly parents dwelt with their small
herd of horses.

The farm was where they had grown up and had been named Lone Pine Farm
because of the huge pine, which topped the hill behind the farm.

Through the years the tree had become a talisman to the old man and his
wife, and a landmark in the countryside.

The young siblings had fond memories of their childhood here but the city
hustle and bustle added more excitement to their lives, and called them away
to a different life.

The old folks no longer showed their horses, for the years had taken their
toll, and getting out to the barn on those frosty mornings was getting
harder but it gave them a reason to get up in the mornings and a reason to
live.

They sold a few foals each year, and the horses were their reason for joy in
the morning and contentment at day's end.

Angry, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks.
"Why do you not at least dispose of 'The Old One.' She is no longer of use
to you. It's been years since you've had foals from her. You should cut
corners and save so you can have more for yourselves. How can this old worn
out horse bring you anything but expense and work? Why do you keep her
anyway?"

The old man looked down at his worn boots, holes in the toes, scuffed at the
barn floor and replied, " Yes I could use a pair of new boots. His arm slid
defensively about the Old One's neck as he drew her near with gentle
caressing he rubbed her softly behind her ears. He replied softly, "We keep
her because of love. Nothing else, just love."

Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a
Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through
the valley. The old couple shook their heads in sorrow that it had not been
a happy visit. A tear fell upon their cheeks. How is it that these young
folks do not understand the peace of the love that filled their hearts?

So it was, that because of the unhappy leave-taking, no one noticed the
insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the
first spark fall. None but the "Old One".

In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were
licking at the loft full of hay.

With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call
for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved horses. But the
flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back.

He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire's fury.

His wife back from calling for help cradled him in her arms, clinging to
each other, they wept at their loss.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were
left, and the old man and his wife exhausted from their grief huddled
together before the barn.

They were speechless as they rose from the cold snow covered ground. They
nodded thanks to the firemen as there was nothing anyone could do now.

The old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulders as
his shaking old hands clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana.

Brokenly he whispered," We have lost much, but God has spared our home on
this eve of Christmas. Let us gather strength and climb the hill to the old
pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down
upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared and pray for
our beloved most precious gifts that have been taken from us."

And so, he took her by the hand and slowly helped her up the snowy hill as
he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his old and withered hand.

The journey up the hill was hard for their old bodies in the steep snow.

As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they paused
to rest, looking up to the top of the hill the old couple gasped and fell to
their knees in amazement at the incredible beauty before them.

Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in
the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it was
aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top, a crystal
crescent moon glistened like spun glass.

Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this.

They were breathless as the old man held his wife tighter in his arms.

Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy. Amazed and
mystified, he took his wife by the hand and pulled her forward.

There, beneath the tree, in resplendent glory, a mist hovering over and
glowing in the darkness was their Christmas gift.

Shadows glistening in the night light.

Bedded down about the "Old One" close to the trunk of the tree, was the
entire herd, safe.

At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and
had led the horses through it.

Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the
hill, stepping cautiously through the snow.

The foals were frightened and dashed about.

The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling g, hungry flames, and
tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like
rabbits.

The mares that were in foal with a new years crop of babies, pressed
uneasily against the "Old One" as she moved calmly up the hill and to safety
beneath the pine.

And now, she lay among them and gazed at the faces of the old man and his
wife. Those she loved she had not disappointed. Her body was brittle with
years, tired from the climb, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion
as she offered them her gift---

Because of love.

Only Because of love.

Tears flowed as the old couple shouted their praise and joy, and again the
peace of love filled their hearts.


~E.G.

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