I have always thought that angels come to earth in many forms. In this case, one arrived in the form of a miraculous horse named Lumis (pronounced Loomis). This was a special angel and he really should have been in the body of a Clydesdale horse to accommodate the size of his soul and his heart. But here he was, neatly packed into a compact and sturdy little equine.
Lumis arrived to us as a boarder for our little barn, and over the next several years he became my counselor, my friend and my biggest concern. I don’t know why I worried about him so much but there was something about that little guy that drew me to look after him like an over-protective hen.Why that was became painfully clear in time.
When I was sad or not feeling well, it was the middle stall in the barn where I found myself seeking comfort. He would rest his head on my shoulder, I would lean my ear against his warm, solid neck and we would stand together in thoughtful silence. He was like a sponge. He absorbed my sadness and that feeling of un-wellness would be gone almost instantly. For me, it was an over-the-counter prescription that worked in minutes.
Lumis was also known for his sense of humour and outrageous social skills. He loved visitors and was a source of amusement for people with his habit of relaxing with his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. He liked being invited into our workshop and would often knock his foot gently on the door to get attention. Being IN the shop was not the greatest idea as the painted floor did not mix well with polished iron shoes. I envisioned a scene from Looney Tunes with said horse splayed in four directions while destroying all contents in the shop as he tried to get his legs gathered under him. However, Lumis was a steady, thoughtful steed and he always managed to back out the same way he came in without turning himself into a floor polisher.
He was also a friend to other animals. Dusty, our 17 year old, almost blind, cat was his best friend. I would often find her in the barn, lying and purring happily between his front legs. His head would hang down just touching the top of hers and the two of them would look very content. When I first discovered this, my heart leapt to my throat, sure there would be a nasty flattening of cat. However they both protested loudly when I tried to snatch her away to safety. He was extremely gentle and always kept an eye on where she was. When Lumis moved away from our barn, Dusty mourned sadly outside his stall for days.
I made it a habit to treat him to a specially made molasses horse cookie every night at bedtime. He was uncharacteristically frantic in his need to have that cookie and waited very impatiently for the evening chores to be done so that anticipated moment in his day would finally come – cookie time. He savoured that cookie like a connoisseur savours a $300 dollar bottle of fine wine. The look of ecstasy followed by a tiny bit of embarrassing drool and then a thorough licking of my barn jacket was Lumis’ way of thanking me for yet another wonderful daily experience.
A gentle, loving soul adopted Lumis a few months ago and when I went to visit him at Christmas, he was surrounded by other horse friends and he seemed very happy. I brought an entire molasses cake so he could share with his barn-mates. I wish now that I had spent more time with Lumis on that visit. Less than a month later, he had a very sad and unfortunate accident and he left this world, leaving a huge void in everyone’s hearts.
Lumis’ new owner was in shock and devastated at losing this loving companion and her decision was to honour him in death as he honoured us in life – with love and a proper send-off. On a cool Saturday afternoon, Lumis was laid to rest in a sunny corner of the paddock, surrounded by people who loved him, and a wonderful Shaman led the service. I had never been to a “horse funeral” so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What happened at that service changed us all forever.
The weather was cool but the sun was shining. It was quiet except for a breeze that stirred the branches in the cedars above us. As the Shaman placed the four classical elements of earth, fire, water and air around Lumis’ resting spot, the trees began to rustle as the breeze turned to a wind, bending the boughs and spinning the grass and earth from the grave in circles around us. Pellets of snow began to fall. My heart was hammering in my chest as I looked up at the sky to see it turn to a fantastical, ever-changing kaleidoscope of colour. I was holding my breath and my hands were clasped over my heart as I felt that knot of pain and loss twist again in my stomach.
And then my little space in which I was standing seemed to fall quiet within that storm of emotions and weather. I sensed a subtle movement near my left shoulder and as I turned my head, I inhaled a wonderful aroma that was so familiar. It was the warm, sweet smell of Lumis’ breath as he blew gentle encouragement against my cheek. I could feel his solid strength standing behind me and that feeling of peace returned that I used to have when he and I would stand together in the barn. My friend and counselor, Lumis the sponge, had come to absorb my sadness one more time.
As I looked around the circle, I could see that many were experiencing the same profound moment. Lumis was here – his spirit had made itself known to us as the wind carried his soul to that forever place where he can run free for all time.
Lumis – always the caregiver, quietly assuming his role, whereas people tend to insist that others know what they do. He needed no accolades for what he was. My role had never been to look after him in the way I thought I was supposed to. He was there to look after me and countless others. His contribution to us was huge. It was his time to go and maybe he’ll be back some day. Maybe not in the same form, but I’ll know him when I meet him. You can never forget meeting an angel. I miss you Lumis.
All photos by Wanda Lambeth
A horse in the sun casts the shadow of an angel.
That relaxed habit of tongue dangling always made people smile.
Please may I come in?