This story of the horse-women of the Netherlands is a true account that took place in 2006. Following a fierce storm, a salt-water flood rose across pasture land, quickly stranding over 100 horses on a tiny hill of an island. Even while some food and fresh water could be brought to the horses by boat, the wind, icy rains, and exposure continued to threaten the horses’ survival. Even with safe pastures in sight, fear of the floods and growing exhaustion kept the horses unsafely clustered and isolated beyond true safety. In fact, through the first days of their ordeal, several horses died in the flood. But then, salvation came in a form the horses recognized.
A few years ago, , retold this story during a Christmas Eve service of worship. About her vision for retelling this story, she wrote:
“Some of the articles I had read about [the horses caught in the flood] said that they were terrified to leave their little island, even though they were getting weaker every day.
“It was only when the horse-women rode out to them & they saw "one of their own" - a horse - leading the way, that they dared to follow and find green pastures where they could run.
“[In the Christmas Eve service] I talked about incarnation, how Jesus came as one of us, to show us the way out of our huddled fear and into abundance. Then I showed the video.”
The story is a fresh and unexpected image of what Emmanuel, G_d-with-us, can be like.
In another recounting of the same story, there is also the true image of the last horse on the island. Too weak and afraid to follow the herd to safety, it then took the constant and surrounding presence of five others to carefully, quietly, walk with this horse through the floods to dry land, where a vet and several attendants were waiting.
This, too, speaks of a presence of Emmanuel, the surrounding presence of Ruach, G_d’s Spirit, ever offering hopeful possibility, even through a wider community; always ready for a needed companioning presence from dying into life.
How might you use this story in a worshipful setting to convey the deep and powerful truth of G_d-with-us in this world?
A news account of the horse-rescue story can be read by clicking