Faith’s eye exploded but she probably didn’t know, except for the pain that a ruptured eye must cause.
The eye – her right – was already gone. The dull smoke-gray orb did little more than indicate where sight once was but had long since gone.
The weeping organ washed her cheek so that it was soaked with discharge, but despite blinking it closed and wincing as it shut, she carried on as she always had – eating, seeking new things to eat and ensuring she wasn’t left too far from her bonded pasture mate, Grace.
The two horses came together. Faith, a short, fiery and explosively fast quarter horse, Grace a giant slow but overly sympathetic and love-filled clumsy draft horse. They met in a shared stall at the Gleason, Tennessee, livestock auction the week before Christmas 2021. Both were several hundred pounds underweight, sickly and weak. Their skin hung from their bones, which were plainly visible, yet their hair moved and wavered because of lice, which are usually unable to take ownership of an otherwise healthy animal.
Neither were strong, but scared and likely sure of their death. The late-night trek to the ranch on a two-hour ride maybe too much for either, but they had no choice (neither did we if we wanted them to live) and, without being dramatic, they were short-timers otherwise on this side of heaven. But the Lord had other plans.
Where Grace is docile and warm, Faith is everything but. Faith is fire, Grace is warm. Faith is short-tempered, Grace even-keeled. Faith is fast, unbelievably so, while Grace lumbers and runs stilt-legged on rear hips that seem uneven and misaligned.
Grace is sighted and confident. She is content and glad to live – she often attempts to do so in the rear pocket of any of us who enter into the barn.
Faith is half blind and was half confident. But Faith also is all survivor.
Before her eye ruptured and had to be removed, Faith was the ball to everyone else’s pins. She was all head and she loved to throw is aggressively and haphazardly without care or concern for the damage done. For a bit, during the first months, a light touch on the hip sent her all asunder.
Some of God’s creatures have stronger wills than others. Despite their struggles and torture, any inflicted pain and undue suffering, they find ways to live beyond the natural means that some of the counterparts. Evolutionists call this the strong surviving. Christians and the God-fearing know this is the strength of the Lord – even as experienced by His designed creatures.
By all accounts, Faith should be dead. She was a hopeless horse in a hopeless situation, even though fully papered and “from good stock,” she was sent to a death camp where only a fool would buy her and her one good eye and her bone-filled body. We’re the fools.
She spent the first several months of her living her finding herself on the wrong side of the fence because she chose the grass on the other side and simply walked through the wires intending to keep her out.
We are also the fools who pulled her from the heap to see if she had anything to offer, any life left to live. We’re the fools who saw fire in her eye and in her heart and met it with the same passion and fire for resurrecting what the Lord seemed to be showing us lay beneath.
Since her surgery to remove the damaged eye, Faith is an entirely different kind of animal. She is smooth and soft, at ease and comfortable. Any pain and discomfort that she may have experienced before the rupture seem to have vanished with the surgery — the veterinarian said as much.
With the surgery, at human hands, whatever pain she felt disappeared. Apparently, Faith’s fire and brim were the result of her bad eye. The rupture just made it imperative to take action. But this change hasn’t made her any less of a survivor because she’s all that.
Nevertheless, horses often have non-functioning eyes but there’s no need to remove them just because nor is there any reason to throw them aside or end their lives. In Faith’s case, the pain and her impassioned energy and outbreaks were corollary.
But Faith is, and always has been, love. Like all of us, she shows it in different ways. When in pain and hurting, she only knew how to express her pain by trying to cause pain and hurt in others despite her love for those who serve and care for her. And, like most of us, she changed as her experiences changed.
Faith is so much than she originally seemed – complicated, subtle, loving of her herd mates and the humans that care for her here, and full of life that might once have been seen as aggressive, unmanageable, and perhaps worthy of death.
Faith is … love, life, and survival, among other blessings.