Other

I love this quote:

“We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.” ~Henry Beston

“Other nations.” Horses (as well as other animals) are intelligent, sentient beings. There is a real strong tendency for a lot of equestrians to treat their horses like human beings – ascribing to them the same thought processes, emotions and motivations that we have. But they are not human beings; they are horse beings. Their thought processes, emotions and motivations are their own and not like ours. To get along with them, we have to learn to speak “horse.”

And yet, they read us well. The Horse.com just published a report of a study showing that horses read our heartbeats. If our heartbeat increases, so does theirs:

“Using heart rate as a fear indicator, the researchers asked 20 people with varying levels of horse experience to walk and ride 10 horses from Point A to Point B four times. The researchers told participants an umbrella would open as they rode or led the horse on the fourth pass. The umbrella never opened, but heart rates in both horses and humans increased during the fourth trip between the points, when the human expected the umbrella to open.”

So although they are Other (or we are, depending on your perspective) we can still relate to and communicate with each other.

So it is with God. We Christians really, really like to think of God as the “old man with the long white beard” (even though we know its not true) and ascribe to God all sorts of human emotions and motivations. And, wow, it looks like most of the time God happens to agree with our own ideas of what’s what! How lucky are we?!

But God is Other. God is not like us. And while we might believe that God is present everywhere, and there is something of God in every living thing, God is still Other. We begin to understand God when we relate to other Others, whether human or not. Because that is how we come to understand that we are not the center of the universe, that our own perspectives are limited and usually selfish. Then our understanding can broaden, hopefully into something more loving and generous that what we were the day before.

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