Comment from Ken: How much I appreciate those who walk with me who leave a suggestion or a comment on our walk. Also, in this walk, I talk again about the farm in Barrington, New Hampshire. How grateful I am to my dad who brought us from the city to the wonder of a farm. Walk with me there today and on our next walk in the week to come.
Scripture: John 10: 14&15; Matthew 6:25&26 11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
25“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
It is a beautiful day, isn’t it? The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the temperature is 28 degrees. We are both here to take a walk here in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. There can be a little confusion if you send a letter to me for my address can not only be Briar Hill Road in Hopkinton, it can also be Briar Hill Road in Contoocook. Contoocook is a village in the town of Hopkinton; the post office is located there. If you put down the zip code 03229, surely the location will be listed as Contoocook.
One thing about moving to Hopkinton that brings a smile to my face is the hesitation of people to pronounce the name Contoocook. When ordering an item on the telephone, the person you talk to does not quite know how to pronounce the word that sounds just as it looks when written: “con too cook.” When we lived in Rhode Island, the different towns also had village names – perhaps not Native American names but names like Berkley, or Manville in the town of Cumberland.
I was out riding with Molly to the village of Contoocook to mail a letter, and when we travelled up Briar Hill Road, we passed by a most beautiful farm where there is a large building for horseback riding events. At the side of Briar Hill, are several fenced in areas where horses can graze and be out of the stable. There is one very large horse that for today has been placed in the area nearest to
the road. I do not know the horse’s name – I wish I did.
Whenever Molly and I pass by that horse, Molly sits up straight in the seat beside me as if to say hello. Molly is so observant of life around her with her beautiful big eyes. As a matter of fact, I have a beautiful picture of Molly on my cell phone. Would you like to see it? Every time we have been out on an errand and come home, Molly sometimes gives me a hard time getting out of the truck. She will lie down after I have opened the door and rest her head on the console between the seats. Rather than hopping up and jumping out of the truck, she just looks at me with those loving eyes. Sometimes, I have to go to the other side of our vehicle to get her out.
I told you that I wished I knew the name of that horse, and I hope that someday I might. I was probably told the name when I met the owner of that beautiful farm, and she told me that she had taken that horse in for he was very tall and consumed a great deal of nourishment. Evidently, others did not want him, and he needed a home.
The love of horses is a part of my family, but not of me. I know little about them, but my family history has stories of several members loving and enjoying horses. My grandfather had several workhorses on his farm in Barrington, New Hampshire. My father rode horses, but I do not know if he ever had one of his own. My Uncle John did have a horse named Jenny, and he told his daughter that Jennie could talk to him. One day, she asked my dad if her father’s horse could really talk to him? Knowing my dad, she probably did not get a “straight” answer.
My grandfather also had some beautiful horses to pull the family to church on a Sunday morning. There were many stories of the Boyle boys and their horse drawn vehicle careening into the churchyard. There were just a few races on the way home, no doubt.
One of my favorite stories about the Boyle boys on the farm was a story my dad told about one morning in church at Greenhill Chapel or at the Congregational Church in Barrington. It was a warm summer day, and all the windows of the church were open. I do not know if he was a hired hand, but in the middle of the pastor’s prayer, Bill Smith saw a horse free himself from the hitching post. Bill roared out a loud, “Whoa, Whoa Boy”. Every one of the people in the church began to rush out to catch the horse; my dad said he was almost trampled as others rushed over him. Amazingly, the pastor during all that commotion just kept on praying!
My brother Bill adored horses. He would skip school to ride a horse and would work in a stable where people to could learn to ride them. As a matter of fact, he had one horse that he adored. One day when we came home to our house on Morgan Street in Melrose where we had a postage stamp lot, my brother had a horse in our garage and asked my dad if he could keep him there. Believe me, in the city of Melrose with its regulations and my father’s humanity, no horse would ever be put in such a place nor would it be allowed.
There were two ways my mother knew my brother Bill had skipped school. The first way was that Loretta, who was a year ahead of him in High School, checked the absence list each day and came home and made the comment that she did not know Billy was ill. He was when my mother found out! The other way she knew when no sibling informed her was the fact that he “smelled like a horse.” (He evidently wasn’t aware of his odor.) We all knew he had been cleaning a horse barn.
Later in his life, Bill owned a horse when he was living on a farm in Jacksonville, Florida.
How about you – have you ever ridden a horse? How do you feel about horses or have you never been around one? There is no doubt about this – my wife whether she likes horses or not cannot be around them. When we were in Lancaster County in Pennsylvania many years ago, we took a buggy ride. Abe’s Buggy Rides were right on the main road near the inn where we stay. We were to ride around several farms and then to return. We had not gone around the corner from where we began when Dale began to sneeze and breathe with difficulty. She may not wish to admit it, but horses are not for her.
Now, you know very well that when we take a walk together we have to mention our faith, and you want to know how “horses” fit into our religion? There may have been a horse in the stable where Jesus was born. We have always believed there was a donkey. On Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. It seems there is no mention of a horse in the New Testament except in the Book of Revelation when we deal with the subject of the end of times. So come on, Rev. Ken, how are you going to fit this subject with religion on our walk? The answer: Jesus loved the world of nature, and he loved animals. How often sheep are mentioned in the teachings of our Savior. He speaks of a shepherd laying down his life for the sheep. He talks of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. In one way, we might consider that Jesus grew up in a farming community with the love of nature and animals just as many of us do at the present time.
How fortunate we are to live in this beautiful world created by God our Father and that includes the animals that coexist with us. The other morning as I wrote on my computer with Molly our dog lying at my feet, I looked down and these wonderful innocent eyes were looking up at me with love. I’m not ashamed to say that I almost wept at the innocence and love of our puppy. When I rode by that beautiful farm and saw the eyes of that large horse, did I see the same innocence and love? I’m sure it is there for his owner who cares for him with great kindness.
Oh, I never got to talk about Bradford’s love of horses – perhaps on our next walk.
Dear loving God, we thank You for the gift of life upon this earth. We thank you for the presence of animals that touch our hearts and lives. We give praise to our Lord Jesus Christ for His teachings of kindness and love, not only for human beings but also for the good creatures that live among us. Bless an old pastor who has come again to the country where the power of his God is seen around him every day and asking that others might be a part that same beauty and love of nature: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.