“The horse is God’s gift to mankind.” – Arabian Proverb
I should probably mention, I am a somewhat fallen-away Catholic. As to why I feel I should mention it, I’m not exactly sure, except that for just about anyone I’ve ever met who has been raised in the Church, being Catholic is kind of a big deal, in that they are either birth-control-eschewing fish-on-Friday folk or they are the kind who, when the subject of religion comes up, will often say something like “well, I was raised Catholic.” The implication here is that they might have once been Catholic but no longer consider themselves to be. The point being, very few Catholics I’ve known, be they practicing, or fallen-aways like I largely consider myself to be, are ambivalent about Catholicism.
I myself was raised Catholic, but I don’t go to mass very often. When I do go, I enjoy it … the familiar prayers and responses (well, at least until the bishops of the Second Vatican Council decided to change them a couple of years back), the incense, the slant of morning sunlight through stained glass. It’s grounding, comforting. I go to mass not so much because I am such a devoted Catholic, but rather because it is what I know. The familiar rhythms of the mass lull me into a state of near meditation, and in rare moments I do feel that sense of communion with my Creator, my belief in Whom has never wavered, even when I’ve struggled and rebelled against the teachings of Catholicism, which has been often.
I do have another church, though, one which feeds my soul every bit as much, and that is the church of Stable. When I attend this church, I don’t wear dresses and high heels, but breeches and paddock boots. In place of incense my nose delights in the signature accord of warm horseflesh and molasses, alfalfa and dung. Instead of hymns, the transporting three beat music of a cantering equine in my ears. In lieu of Communion, and a wafer of unleavened bread on my tongue, I offer my mount a peppermint candy with much ceremony, and breathe in his minty breath. Some might consider it a sacrilege to say that I feel as close or closer to my God in the church of Stable than I do at mass, but I would remind those people that Jesus himself was born in a stable.
As for the stained glass … well, this church has that covered, too.