Thursday, September 05, 2013

symbol of the soul

This morning was the day that I stopped spreading stall pickings in bare spots and started back wheeling them down to the grandmother compost pile. The path carries me past Salina's grave and I said hello to her as I walked by. I spent a little time down the back path, just looking and thinking about what needs doing down there, and about how beautiful it is, even in our year or so of neglect. 

I think what I love best about forest is its ability to rejuvenate and cover over and fill in. After we lost the trees there to lightning I felt the empty space tremendously. But already other trees are growing in that space. I feel protected and sheltered when I stand beneath that canopy. And also connected to many creatures: the deer, the foxes, even the spiders that build their webs across the path.

Coming back up the hill and nearing Salina's grave from the other direction, I spotted something white. I thought it was a clump of lime - after we mounded her body we applied a layer of lime and did so again a week after her death. It rained the day after we applied the second layer and some of the lime clumped and is still there in a few spots.

Closer inspection revealed that I was not seeing a clump of lime. The rain had formed a concave area in the top of the mound and what I had seen was actually one of Salina's ribs, bleached perfect and white by the sun. I was not repelled; in fact the instant I realized what it was I reached and touched it, feeling the curve and remembering the curve of her flank, the feel of her ribs underneath the flesh. I rubbed the curve the same way I would have had she been standing there.

It struck me how symbolic the rib bone is. How wonderful a gift to see that part of her gleaming white in the sun coming through the trees. I took some of the compost at the base of her grave and moved it up top, filling in the concave area and covering the rib with the sweet black dirt.

Just now I googled "symbolism of the rib" and the first thing I read was this:

"Thousands of years ago, our Creator had a divine thought: to give to man a "help-meet." Our God knew that man could not do the job by himself. He needed someone else to help meet humanity's needs--and God's.

This brilliant innovation was woman.

The book of Genesis tells us that she was created out of one of man's ribs (Genesis 2:21-22). I believe this was a strategic idea in order for woman to have her rightful place in this world. God did not choose a piece of Adam's head, so that woman would be over him; nor did He select a piece from Adam's foot, so that he would step on her. Rather, our loving Creator chose man's rib, so that woman was taken from his side--to be his equal...from under his arm--to be protected by him...and from near his heart--to be loved by him."

Although spiritual, I am not a religious person. But I couldn't help but think when I read the above passage that if you replace the word woman with horse you come very close to how I felt about Salina. She was my help-meet. She was brilliant. And every day I had with her I knew how equal she was to me - I felt the responsibility of protecting her, keeping her near my heart, and loving her. And I think she felt the same things toward me.

Reading on in my search for information, I followed links and ended up on a page about the symbolism of Eve. And found this quote, which I think says it all about my experiences with Salina since her death:

"Abdu'l-Bahá describes Eve as a symbol of the soul and as containing divine mysteries."


Matthew said...

That's really amazing. I think of her every time I go out to the barn. At night I pat the horses and pony and donkey three times each and then I pat the sky for Salina. I like your symbolic journey with Eve and the rib too.

Thank you for writing this.

billie said...

I often have a visceral sense of Salina doing a nice slow gallop around the perimeter of the farm. She is perfectly nimble and at ease on both knees and she has both eyes again. It never feels to me like she is gone - I do miss her physical presence but the sense of her spirit is strong and when I get the image of her galloping it is so real I can feel her near me.

Anonymous said...

I love your acceptance and digestion (is that the right word? I don't know.) of the finding of her rib. It felt very right to me.

billie said...

Thanks, Kate. It was intense in a good way.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

This post sounds like Salina is helping you still... what a gift to be able to touch her again.

billie said...

C, it was very much like she was reaching out to me. In some ways hard to describe how potent it was. Hope you are well - really wanting a new blog post from you!! :)

Grey Horse Matters said...

I do think Salina will always be with you in the spiritual sense. I like your imagery of her galloping around the farm healthy and whole again. I'm sure she's watching over all the inhabitants of November Hill.

billie said...

A, I was out there again today, just enjoying the quiet with her. I had planned to plant tulips over her entire grave but since the boys go back there quite a lot now I worry they'll pull the tulips up come springtime and eat the bulbs, which I understand are toxic.

I have a local county heirloom apple in my apple bin that I am thinking of planting right beneath her rib. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have an apple tree take root there? She would love that.

Máire said...

I love the symbolism and how those words described your relationship with Salina. This time will be very rich for you I think. She seems to have had a very strong spirit.

billie said...

Maire, she could be as gentle as a lamb but she could also be a force of nature - very kind and fair but very opinionated. Many times more so than any of the geldings we live with.