“Verily, he is victorious who has conquered himself.” Hazrat Inayat Khan


I have heard about the courage of a child who found her alcoholic mother lying unconscious in her own vomit, again. How she left the mother there, years later coming to forgive her, looking all the way through the mother’s face to see her own.

I was 8, riding bareback through the woods on an old mare, grey as bark, when I came upon my cousin, who had been adopted at 12 and was then around 15. I was told her mother was a drunk, who’d  had her daughter out of wedlock. Later they say my cousin went that way herself. Where ever she is now, I trust and believe she is happy and has found peace. That day, my cousin rode Aunt Cle’s red mare under a low hanging oak and got her hair tangled in its branches. Just like Absalom had in the Bible.

I knew well the pride and arrogance of Absalom. That day, unseen by my cousin, I sat my horse and watched her struggle, hung by her long hair, red as the horse’s mane.  That day, I heard her crying for help and felt a coldness come up in me like a thousand light years of space. Then I turned my horse and rode away, telling no one until now.

It wasn’t long after that our grey mare was kicked by the red one, breaking a back left leg and hip. She was on the ground, struggling to get up, all her yellow teeth showing but not making a sound. So I ran to my father and uncle, who were drinking coffee and reluctant to come. When they did come and saw what had happened, one of them finished off the grey mare with a shotgun that had a hickory stock carved by hand after the War of Northern Aggression. Then they harnessed the red mare that kicked her and drug the grey off into the woods. The grey mare’s name was Bess. The girl was Ginny.

All the years behind me are a quiet pool of rain water. Easy now to look into that pool and see a face that is no longer mine. To notice it, forgive and bless it, to leave it there, riding on.



2 thoughts on “FORGIVING ABSALOM

  1. When you told that story of your cousin, I thought about my adopted older sister and I, who had violent fights when we were small, and missed few opportunities to figuratively stab each other in the back. I realized, later, that it had to do with my alcoholic/narcissist mother and my rageoholic father and the atmosphere of fear, anger and violence in our home. To this day, I can’t give any real explanation of our behavior, except that there was a dearth of love in our family, and everyone was afraid of dying of starvation.

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