10: A Gift of Faith

10: A Gift of Faith

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

A Gift of Faith

A horse is worth more than riches.

~Spanish Proverb

It had been a long weekend, but the results had been good. The hard work I had put in with Spenser had made us tough competition. The judge had loved my big horse, so we were nearly undefeatable. I smiled to myself. It had been years since I had been at the top of my game.

There was a rush of activity around me as everyone readied to go home. I had packed my stuff and stacked it outside Spenser’s stall, but we were not going back home. It was the end of the last show of the summer, and Spenser was headed to a new home. The next week, I would start my senior year in college, and Spenser had a place waiting for him next to the campus.

I patted his neck as he neighed to the horses leaving around him. He was big and beautiful, a large gray horse with bright eyes and a long, silvery forelock. People would often approach me and ask if he was for sale or if they could at least pet him. He drew people to him and reveled in the attention they gave. His personality didn’t change at all as people got to know him. He was a big boy with a big heart.

“I have my white horse. All I need for this to be perfect is my knight,” I thought. But James was ten hours away at home. He had come and stayed almost a month for my birthday, but I couldn’t expect him to stay all summer. I had been disappointed that our time together had ended so quickly, but we still talked as much as possible, and I would see him when we got to school.

James was pretty much as perfect as Spenser. He was smart and kind, and he didn’t care that I didn’t wear make-up or act girly. He let me be myself. We had met through James’s older sister, Anna, at school two years ago. The following spring, I had come home with Anna to be in her wedding to Nate. We had only known each other for six months, but the connection was strong. At the wedding, I met James, and we danced and talked. All the while, Anna giggled and pointed out to Nate that there was a new couple forming right on the dance floor.

That spring, James and I talked almost every day and found we had a lot in common. I found a place for him in my heart and was smitten by the early summer. On my birthday that year, he came from ten hours away to ask me to be his girlfriend. I said yes, and we found ways to see each other despite the distance. It had been tough, but as the love grew within us, things fell into place.

Now, it was a year later. We were both in love, and neither of us could imagine life without the other. We fought, but it was nothing we couldn’t solve. Our love was strong.

I sighed with thoughts of James. It had been a month since I had seen him in person, and I missed being able to hold him close to me, to look into his eyes and see the love shining back. I was hooked, no doubt.

Finally, the lot cleared momentarily. I motioned for Ronny, a trainer from Spenser’s new barn, to pull the trailer around. I loaded everything into the truck’s bed and led Spenser in. He was a saint, as usual, and went into the trailer without fuss.

“Wait,” a familiar voice called as I began to lock Spenser in. “Another horse has to go in there!”

I looked up. Ronny hadn’t said anything about taking another horse, and nobody had mentioned coming north with me. The horses here didn’t normally travel that far.

My eyes locked on a familiar figure. My face broke into a smile, and I walked up to him.

“Hey there, beautiful,” he whispered, kissing me gently.

“What are you doing here?”

He looked at me, and then looked to his right. I had been so wrapped up in seeing James that I hadn’t even noticed the horse he was holding. And she was gorgeous. She was tall and lanky, and shone a deep golden chestnut, with a large, etched blaze and feet that looked like she had recently been knee-deep in white paint.

“Her name’s Leap of Faith, or Faith, I guess,” he said with a laugh. “She’s yours.”

I looked back and forth between the horse and my love. What had I done to deserve a wonderful man and this wonderful horse? I took the lead gently from his hands, my eyes thanking him while my voice failed to speak.

I looked back to the mare. She was about the same height as Spenser, but skinnier. She didn’t seem hyped up by the show grounds, even though she appeared to be young. I reached up and scratched her neck. How had my boyfriend found and bought a great horse such as this? He knew very little about horses, only what I had taught him.

My eyes caught on the plate of the halter: “Will You Marry Me?”

My eyes widened, and I looked back at James. His hands were tucked sheepishly in his pockets, and he smiled carefully.

My mouth fell open, and I looked back and forth, my smile growing with every look. Ronny had caught on to what was going on and came to take Faith from me. I let go and ran the few steps to James’s arms.

“Are you for real?” I asked, wrapping my arms around him.

“Well, we haven’t known each other all that long. But I’ve been praying, and I’ve just got this feeling. I love you so much.”

I smiled at him and wiggled in his embrace.

James laughed. “You never answered your horse.”

I smiled up at him. “Well, we just met. I don’t think I could marry her.”

“How about me then?”

I bit my lip and smiled, my heart soaring. “Yes.”

We kissed. By then, a small crowd had gathered and clapped for us. James slipped a ring on my finger and kissed me deeply.

“She’s yours,” he told me, “an early wedding gift. That way we can go riding together.”

I smiled. I couldn’t have found anyone better.

“Thank you, James. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

The horses were loaded and taken north. We held hands for the entire eight-hour ride. When we arrived at the new barn, we unloaded the two gentle giants and took them out. The sun was setting over the small farm, and my ring caught in the fading light. I smiled to myself and then at my fiancé.

~Johanna Hardy

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