After a season of many close deaths, Jade Beaty realized that there is a need for a sacred and safe place where we can mourn our losses.
Through her volunteer time at Horses Makes Miracles, in Longmont, Colorado, she experienced how very much the horses helped her and others move through the sudden loss of a 15-year-old young man whose birth she had attended. She had also lost her best friend from junior high suddenly in January, 2013, then an uncle and a cousin within a month of each other, as well as her mother the previous fall. Numb from all the grief, Jade was sitting at the back of the property where the horse facility was located, while letting one of the horses graze. She had a vision of a wall that could be built there to serve as a place for people to come and engage in ceremony and ritual with the horses present, to help them move beyond the pain of losing loved ones in death. This could also be a place to address any loss or transition, such as divorce or a change in home or career: an opportunity to acknowledge what is gone and begin to move forward again toward what is possible. The Wall can also become a place to acknowledge our collective losses, as a community, and remember events such as the anniversaries of 9/11, or school shootings, as well as memorialize any tragedies in our own area. Even after our hearts are broken from losing the people and things that we love, we must move forward at some point in our lives.
There is a sheltered area at the back of this property, away from the stables, ruled by an old dead tree that will make perfect benches, once it is cleaned up. The location that was chosen was by a snow melt irrigation ditch that runs in the spring and summer, so there is sometimes the sound of rushing water. Jade imagined this as an evolving art installation, as well as a simple rock wall. Young people will be invited to memorialize a part of the wall with spray paint/ graffiti. Rocks and other items can be added as people come to make memorials to their losses. Trees can be planted and benches placed.
The ritual Jade envisions can include a horse that can be painted (yes, they love it!) and will carry memorabilia as we walk to the Wall in ceremony, perhaps with drumming. The client will design the ceremony in the ways that they want, and will be supported by staff and the horses. Wailing will be encouraged. It is incredibly cathartic to make sound, sob and cry in a safe and private place, especially with loving witnesses, both horse and human. Letters to the deceased or lists of losses can be left at the wall. The Director of Horses Make Miracles, Linda, was severely impacted by the tragic and sudden death of one of her horses several years ago and is looking forward to her own time at the wall. It wouldn’t be required for people to interact with the horses, but they are amazingly supportive to this process and hold grounded space for our grieving. We often are not given space or time in this culture to grieve our losses, and they accumulate and block our capacity for appreciating and loving who is still here, as we move beyond the emotional impact of loss.
**********************************
I’m a pretty terrible artist, but here’s a rough sketch I made for the previous location. There were several large (and heavy) concrete picnic table tops that would have served wonderfully for graffiti, but a concrete block wall would work well, too. If you click on this image, you can see it much better:
Update, August, 2020
I have moved ‘home’ to Colorado. Montana never clicked for me, and after four long years of isolation, I’m relieved to be back in a friendlier place. I hope Montanans figure out that there is always going to be economic struggle, hardships and few opportunities for youth as long as the ‘natives’ are unfriendly. The first thing people want to tell you is how many generations their family has lived in Montana. I’ve never been where there are so many cliques, clans and cults, and if you are not ‘one of us,’ you are ostracized and marginalized socially to the extreme. My natural Texan friendliness made me even MORE strange and suspect. I like to think they’ll miss me when I’m gone, and maybe even wish they’d spent a little time getting to know me, instead of refusing friendship. I’m really entertaining when comfortable, and one hell of a friend. And I found a few lovely gems who are rest-of-our-lives friends. You know who you are.
The property described above changed tenants before I left Colorado in the fall of 2015, and Linda moved her herd to another location. I’ve made two attempts at this project, once in Texas and once in Colorado. I continue to hold the possibility and take small steps every day toward the manifestation of Horse Wisdom Ranch and The Wailing Wall. I’m always looking for co-creative partners! Visit the Connect page to open this conversation. Or, just hide and watch! It will happen in some form or fashion before I die, or die trying.