Heaven is high and earth wide. If you ride three feet higher above the ground than other men, you will know what that means.
Story by — John Cox
It wasn’t too long before Christmas, and sitting close to the campfire a good idea. Yip, I was surrounded by snow, with a couple of icicles that hung from the highline where Babe tied-off. The sky clear, stars bright. It was cold.
Babe use to the weather. Me, I could never get use to it. but no place I would rather be than in the wilds. A person can do a lot with love, understanding, and knowing around every tree trunk, or hillside something different, something to learn; yes, even frozen toes and finger-tips sometimes.
So I got up and walked over to Babe. Grabbed her blanket and put it on her. That’s when I heard something odd. Something I had never heard before out there.
Now, I had been out there many times, about 28 miles, as far as I thought, from anywhere or most anything. The closest road was near 15 to 18 of those miles. So when I heard a few horse-hooves clomp and stumble over tree branches, I listened close.
Babe’s head turned toward the sound. Her look of curiosity, not a threatened-look in her eyes at all; how odd it was indeed. So with my back to the saddlebags, my eyes riveted toward the stand of trees where the noise come from. Without looking down, I pulled the old 1812 Winchester out, cocked the bullet into the chamber, and waited.
Ya know, the thing about nature is to wait . . . It’s always the moment in nature, in the wilds, and patients learned. The gifts many, always, being patient and watching . . .
The brush rumbled a little beyond Babe. I pulled-up the rifle. I pulled the hammer back with my thumb, slow, deliberate. Rifle butt tight to my shoulder.
Suddenly, the branches part and a big-ol horse’s snout peeks through.
My rifle down. The black stallion, connected to that big ol’ snout of a nose — I was looking at nothing less than nature’s wonder. It was beautiful. It’s black, thick mane all the way down to its pastern’s.
Under my breath, “What the . . .” when out popped a little buckskin foal with a black mane, then a gorgeous buckskin mare, with her sparkling gold mane almost to the ground.
All three then turned and ran off, disappeared into the night. I stood there . . .
“Those were some horses. Do they range over here?”
I spun around, rifle up.
“Hold on! We mean no harm,” come another voice.
I looked at three men, unarmed. There was something about them, a glow or something . . .
“We just seen your fire, from the flat over on the basin,” as the first man spoke while getting off his horse.
“Thought we would come over, heat up a little coffee,” the third man said as he dismounted also.
I walked over and placed the rifle back into its scabbard, “Ya know, we’re some ways further than really anything else. What the hell you doing over on the basin this time of night? Or morning?”
The last man got off his horse, followed the other two respectfully to the side of my camp, over to the highline. One spoke while they finished hooking their horses up. I did notice it was like they done it a few hundred times before.
“To be truthful, we’re searching,” while walking toward the fire. “We come together a few days ago, started to talk, and we’re all looking for the same thing.”
The other finished with his horse, and come over to the fire as well.
The last man looked at me with the eyes, like someone I knew, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. It was uncomfortable, but oddly I felt in no danger at all. As a matter of fact, I felt very safe.
“. . . so we joined up and rode through some of the most beautiful land in the Northwest. These Cascades gorgeous, to say the least. You’re a very lucky man, John.”
The other two come over and sat down. I was caught off guard, “How did . . .”
“I’m Gabe, that’s Mike you’ve been talking to, and coming up is Leo.”
I sat on my ol’ rock next to the fire and warmth. I have never felt so, well, once again safe, and in the middle of the woods, and surrounded by people I had no idea who they were or where they come from. They seemed nice enough . . .
While they were fixin’ their coffee I took a minute to look at their horses. Beautiful and so well kept they were remarkable; and yet, there was just something about . . . something different, but I found myself smiling . . . comfortable.
The still night broken. Horse-hoof thunder — hundreds. The sounds surrounded us. I jumped up. I looked at the others. They were calm, as they glanced southward. I ran over to grab Babe, and . . .
“John, it’s okay,” Mike said.
The thunder grew intense, the ground shook. Branches broke all around us. It sounded like the very trees themselves would burst in half, any second. I seen horses gathered in the trees, so thick, the horses heads bobbed, their manes swished side to side . . .
Then I saw the clearing over on the hillside beside us. It started to fill with more horses, then even more yet. God willing, I never seen so many horses rumble through the snow. Why, they rolled over the other hills and into, well, right where I stood!
Clustered, as far as my eyes could see. Everywhere. Horses of all kinds and colors. They just kept coming, and rolled across the hillsides, over the surrounding rocks, like a swarm of hundreds of . . . whatever swarms.
I could not believe my eyes. Within a couple of minutes, which seemed like hours, we were surrounded, in total, by horses – I had never seen so many horses in one place, and as far as I could see, even though dark out, it was tremendous – we were at the very center of them all – surrounded indeed, an understated fact.
Babe? Well, she just stood there beside me, and never was so calm and comfortable as she was right at that moment. She knew something I did not. I could just tell . . .
Then the horses on one side of my camp backed-off. Clearly, they made a path, and in walked another man. He was clad in armor, an extremely large broadsword hung off his hip, ready for battle, all in gold. I had never seen such a bright-white horse, as he led it toward us, in the middle of . . .
“John, I want you to meet Samuel,” Mike said, while pointing toward Samuel’s outstretched hand, to shake in greeting.
I was speechless, and never seen anything like this before, the horses, the armor clad man, Samuel, shaking my hand, the other three and their horses. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement.
“Greetings John, I am Samuel. I wish I could stay longer, John, and get to know you better, as I understand . . .“
Gabe spoke up, fast, “. . . Not yet Sam, he doesn’t know. We just got here ourselves.”
Samuel smiled at me, went over and shook the hands of the other three.
“. . . first-light is not far away, and I must go, Radueriel and Raguel wait,” Samuel said, in a command-voice.
He stopped to my front, stood to attention, raised his hand, palm forward, his other hand on the golden broadsword grip — as a salute to me and the others. He spun, mounted his horse, and left.
I stood in such a humble state, as the horses surrounding us, cascaded by, and on both sides of my campsite. They galloped, the snow-dust and mist rose up, their legs hidden; their bodies in confirmation, and heads swooped while high into the air, their manes swooshed and flew back as in flight.
There did not seem to be an end to them, as we watched the spectacle pass. All of those horses, Wild Horses. The thunder of their hooves — and with amazement I watched as they all followed Samuel into the valley then up onto the hillside itself; then leading the entire herd, broadsword out and raised, the white horse and he set aglow, soon disappeared over the hill. The Wild Horses, there were so many, surged and rolled over the hill, a continuous flow that followed their leader . . .
As a matter of fact, we all stood and watched, still amazed at the site. The last of the herd rolled over the hill. At first the snow-dust and trailing mist disappeared; then eventually, the thunder of horse hooves, with the horses calling to one another, faded into the darkness toward the west; just as the first sparkle of sunlight started to come over the horizon eastward.
I looked over at Gabriel, Michael, and Leo and for a moment I understood, but just as much as I knew, I remained just as confused.
Gabriel and Leo were getting their horses off the highline, Michael’s as well. Michael dumped the remainder of his cup of coffee on the ground, walked up to me, tipped his cowboy hat back, and looked me in the eyes.
“You know who we are, don’t you?”
“I think so, but a little confused . . .” I said.
“We’re going to make some Angels right here in your backyard. And you know why? Because it was you and the others that worked so hard to save them. Samuel is meeting the Angel we call the Angel Maker . . . Radueriel,” Michael stated with a large smile, “. . . and ol’ Raguel, well, he’s the Angel that watches over us all. He’s a pretty good Angel, very likeable.”
“You’re making Angel’s out of . . .?”
Michael throws his arm around my shoulders as we walked toward his horse and the others.
“Yip, John, you have it. All those horses you seen? We figured they needed protecting. Those government people and the others with’em, they just don’t get it – and they’re killing some of the most Angelic things on the face of this earth. They done that a few centuries ago as well! And, by damn, as Angels, we’re going to put a stop to it, because no one else will.”
Michael slaps me on the back, grabs my hand and shakes it. He turns toward Gabriel, who hands the reins to him, and he mounts his horse, while Gabriel and Leo wait.
I stood there in aw of the occasion, “. . . I don’t. . .”
Gabriel laughed, “. . . John, no words, it was all of your prayers’ were heard, and we also seen what was going on — evil. We heard them, and we heard all the others who love horses as well and their prayers, brother; and these Wild Horse herds are saved because of you all . . . They’ll be here a long, long time . . . Merry Christmas.”
I watched the Three Angels ride off, with snow-dust under their hooves. I then heard a Merry Christmas from Gabriel and Leo as well . . . along with a laugh of a job well done. – Merry Christmas To All with hope . . . John