How many of you have ever been on a real horse-drawn sleigh ride? For my family it is one of our favorite outdoor activities when there is snow on the ground.
I am afraid that all too often in today’s world we have lost the opportunity and appreciation of a quiet time in the woods with God’s creatures, observing His handiwork and wonders. If we get into the woods at all in the winter it is likely at breakneck speed on a noisy snowmobile so that we miss most of what is there to see.
I’ll never get sick of a sleigh ride. The only noise is the jingle of the harness or brass bells on the horses along with the steady drumming of their hooves in the snow with an occasional snort as they are working. For me it is best when the ground has been frozen solid and then twelve to fourteen inches of fresh snow falls on top of it. The snow flies and sparkles as the horses charge through it.
It is sort of like riding through a postcard with the snow on the trees. Animals leave tracks in the snow. The occasional partridge explodes out of the pines making us jump more than the horses. Often a flock of ducks will take off from the open water of the creek near our house. The children ride on toboggans behind the sleigh while the adults stay warm under blankets as they sit on hay bales.
Usually I hear expressions of amazement from the uninitiated. At times I would even describe the reaction as one of reverence. Often the older family members will sit next to me on the front. Immediately long forgotten stories start to flow about childhood horses and farming experiences.
Afterward, we often sit around a big campfire warming up. We roast marshmallows and drink hot cider or hot chocolate. We are both building and recalling memories of family, faith and friends. Meanwhile the horses get brushed down and fed as they cool down from all the exertion.
God made us from the very earth we walk on. Because He has made us earthy I believe we need to stay connected to the creation for our own mental, emotional, and, yes, even spiritual wellbeing. When is the last time you paused to feel the snowflakes on your face? When have you listened to the crunch of the snow as you are walking in the sub-zero cold? When is the last time you breathed a prayer of wonder and thanksgiving to your heavenly Father for all the wonders of the creation around you? May His name be praised.
Flying snow from pounding hooves,
Gliding, the sleigh onward moves.
The trees with white wondrous seem,
The horses snort and blow out steam.
Our hearts are glad with family and friends,
Thinking of the covenant blessings God sends.
We feel His breath in the wintry chill,
We’re filled with wonder at the charging thrill.
Our hearts are warm as we think on His care,
The Father feeding His creatures out there.
If the earth winter’s wonder can possess,
How much more His people will He bless.