It was a treasured late summer evening when temperatures hover around 70 degrees, there was a slight cooling breeze, clear starlit skies, and barely a mosquito buzzing. We had just returned from a lovely evening outdoor wedding for two special young friends, with a special message from our pastor about the profound mystery of marriage, not just for newlyweds, but also for those of us married for many years. As we approach our 28th anniversary next month, we are blessed in the knowledge we depend on God’s grace every day, trying to reflect it back to our children, our community, to each other.
We decided to hike up to the top of our hill after dark to catch the best view of our neighbor Mars before we brought our Haflingers in for the night. Mars was there to see all right, orange and bright in the southeast sky. But the Haflingers seemed to be afflicted by strange Martian fever, or perhaps it was simply because we rarely wander out into the field in the dark with flashlights in hand. There was no moon yet when we were out –simply starlight and the far-off lights from Vancouver, British Columbia to the north and Bellingham to the south.
The Haflingers started running in the dark, kicking and snorting and bucking with the joy of a starlit, Martian-lit summer evening. Only all we could see of the Haflingers were their ghostly white manes and tails moving across the fields, jumping and twisting and cavorting.
I’m sure over the generations, in the alpine meadows of the South Tyrol, there must have been some starlit moonless lights when the Haflinger herds would run together, and all you could see in the dark were floating disembodied white manes and tails.
Perhaps that is what enchanted the mountain peasants the most about their sturdy reliable golden companions—at night they become spirit and light. They shine like the stars, even from the ground, reflecting back the lights from the heavens. And so, in our companionship with each other, and with God, do we glow with His light.