A safe return on horseback
A Christian Science perspective on daily life – for kids.
Susie loved Buttercup the first time she settled into the saddle on her sturdy back. Buttercup was a nimble, well-trained mountain horse, and Susie was told, "She will take care of you." And she did.
When Susie rode Buttercup, she knew that God was right there with both of them, and that they couldn't fall out of God's care. Whenever they approached a steep trail, Susie prayed and felt peaceful, knowing that Buttercup would take a zigzag path of her own choosing.
But Susie was frightened on one ride, and angry that the leader of the group changed their route and was leading them on a steep shortcut. She looked ahead to a high plateau. The approach was along a winding path that led up to a banking of shale, hardened clay that splits easily into thin layers.
She tried not to appear scared as the horses began the climb on the shale up to the plateau. She prayed for the courage to stay on Buttercup and to do the three things she was taught to do at a time like this – loosen her grip on the reins, trust the horse to find the safest path, and stay centered in the saddle, leaning slightly forward. She also prayed to get rid of what was troubling her – anger toward the leader of the group for taking this route.
To calm herself, she closed her eyes for a moment and shut out the scene – a sheer drop on one side, a steep rise on the other. Everyone was quiet; each was busy watching the trail. The only sound was the noise of the horses' hooves on the shifting slabs beneath their feet.
Susie knew that this was no time to feel angry or fearful. Instead, it was time to hold onto the truth, knowing that both she and Buttercup, and every person and horse in the group, could never be separated from the guidance and care of their Father-Mother God. God's direction didn't allow for mistakes. Susie had proved that many times. She felt sure that others were praying, too, because that's what people often do when they are very quiet in times of trouble.
A growing calm began to replace her fear. She patted Buttercup, telling her what a good job she was doing. Buttercup flicked her ears, and Susie knew she had heard her, even though Buttercup's attention was still fixed on where she would put her hoof next on the rough trail. Susie kept thinking about God, feeling His presence with her, Buttercup, and everyone, including the leader. She sang to herself these words from a hymn, which was first a poem ("Poems," p. 14) written by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science:
Shepherd, show me how to go O'er the hillside steep, How to gather, how to sow, – How to feed Thy sheep; I will listen for Thy voice, Lest my footsteps stray; I will follow and rejoice All the rugged way.
Finally they reached the last plateau. Susie was glad to hear the leader apologize; he hadn't known the dangers of that trail. From the plateau, the trail led down and was more gradual than the one that led up the mountain, much to everyone's relief. The group cheered when, after another hour of riding, they were off the mountain. Susie was grateful for protection and to know that God is present no matter where we are. She knew that neither she nor Buttercup, nor any of the group could be separated from their Father-Mother. As the Bible says, "He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone" (Ps. 91:11, 12).