It was one of those surprise moments when something unexpected and wonderful brings you to a conscious moment of aliveness.
It had not been the most encouraging day. We had been visiting different people in the village and for the first time I understood what had happened to one man who used to be a regular at our church. He had stolen—and I am using this word in a literal sense— another man’s wife and thrown the man out of his own house. We sat talking to this now-wifeless man who still managed to crack a few jokes as he hunched over his seat, occasionally stroking his long mustaches. This was not news for B. and D. since it had happened a couple of months ago, but well, sometimes I lose these things in translation and only catch on days or weeks later when I am having a “good” Croatian day.
But I was flabbergasted at the story, especially after hearing the gritty details which frankly may be too graphic to share on this blog. How had this happened?
We were walking through the village back towards our car when we saw him. We knew the boy by sight, although I could not place his name. The horse was muddy, but there was no mistaking its breeding, its noble air under all the grime.
“The Queen of England came to pick out a Lipizzan once,” a boy told me while I was in Đakovo. “And my aunt gave her flowers.” These are the kind of stories that live on in family lore indefinitely.
But now, in this moment when the sun was shining on the gleaming streets, the boy on the horse was making the horse dance, dance all around the ramshackle houses.
The horse moved with grace and precision, lifting its legs up high as it moved backwards and forwards, the boy in complete control. At one point, he even stood up on the horse.
I caught my breath, surprised at this bit of artistry and beauty in the midst of poverty and so many sad stories. I needed a shock like this to remind me not to become calloused by the stories and the hard news—but to keep expecting the bursts of beauty and light that explode on your senses when you least expect it.