A Group of People

At Beauty’s Door

In black beauty, expectations, horses, life on February 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm

It was February 3rd on an Oregon winter day much like today. I was 12 and the sun cast a haze over the cold blue sky. On this day my deepest wish came true.

By @LizDugger

“Yeah, this is the right place. Come with me,” he said as he stepped out the front door and started toward the side of his run-down house.

The circumstances seemed questionable, but curiosity overrode doubt. My friends and I gave each other a blank look, then shrugged our shoulders and hurried after him as he went down the cement stairs to the gravel drive. We had to hustle to keep up with this man who apparently had a horse in need of a home. We followed him around a corner to the back of his beat up place.

“We keep him right in here,” he said, casually pointing straight ahead to an old, stand alone garage with a sagging roof and two worn blankets that hung in lieu of the top half of the dutch garage doors.

My expectations started drooping like the roof. Instantly I wondered, “who keeps a horse in a garage? What kind of ‘plug’ is this going to be?” I had no idea what to expect, already feeling sorry for the poor horse in the garage, but wasn’t about to leave. Any chance to see, touch, or even smell a horse was worth a little weirdness or wait.

Crunch, crunch, we tromped over the gravel toward the shifty garage. I was nervous, but excited. As we got closer, the blanket-dutch-doors moved. A black, velvety muzzle nosed through the overlapping blankets where they met in the middle of the doorway. An instant later, his entire head popped out into the open. Between the shabby blankets and uneven walls he met us straight on with the kindest of eyes, inquisitive ears, and soft, friendly nicker, looking quite happy to have company.

I stopped. Transfixed. He was exactly like a picture on the cover of the “Black Beauty” book my mom and dad had given me for Christmas when I was seven. Solid black with a small, white diamond in the middle of his forehead. But his dark brown eyes were real and twinkled with life and anticipation of new friends, maybe even treats. He was a breathing version of the images I’d nurtured in my imagination for years. I was instantly certain he should be mine. I felt like he might be thinking the same thing.

Details after that initial glimpse are now a blur. A big, happy blur of convincing my parents – neither of them animal lovers – that I should have a horse and he was the one. I promised to take care of him. Practice piano. Get good grades. Do all my household chores. Earn money to help pay for his food. Do anything they asked. No mountain between me and this horse was immovable. I was motivated. And I would keep my promises.

I chose his name the minute I saw him. Beauty. Just plain Beauty. (Yeah, the corny name like the book – my brother never let me hear the end of it!) But this is what he was. Beautiful. I was 12 and he was a gift, teaching me about responsibility, caring, facing challenges, earning money, organization, discipline, prioritizing. He connected me with some of the best friends I’ve ever had. His back became my first “sanctuary” as I rode alone at times, pouring out my thoughts to God for hours. Having Beauty’s company filled a hidden, lonely space with memories of pure fun that have repeatedly reminded me of the Good in life at times that haven’t seemed so. Haven’t seemed so good.

But Life is good. Even though it sometimes seems questionable or shabby. Or there’s a sagging roof and broken down doors. Good things can reside in unexpected places waiting for the right time to break through. I know this is true. I saw it happen at Beauty’s door.

Please visit Liz’s blog by clicking, here.


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