I caught a glimpse of the 4 trucks with trailers, drive up through the trees and park outside, right in front of the indoor arena. It was an over cast day, cold and a bit windy. A good day to be inside.
Big Red was tentatively lead out with the others, walked into the arena with his head down and his eyes fixated on the soft sand below him and there he stood…. alone. The others were a bit more secure and entered the arena and started to investigate the area. Red went to the side farthest away from everyone , over by himself without ever looking up.
He looked like he had been through a war. I was told that the folks who had him before were just plain mean and never really fooled with him at all. He was left alone alot. I noticed that his shoulder seemed a bit sore and he had a slight twitch. His brown eyes were a bit glazed over and he was blinking quite alot. I thought to myself, “This is going to be tough.”
My movements toward him were slow and deliberate. I made sure I didnt move to quickly, he might just run from that. As I made my way over to him, I didn’t say a word. Not making eye contact, I slowly walked up to introduce myself, but he turned and moved away rather quickly towards the safety of the arena wall.
“What do I do to make him more comfortable”, I said to myself.. He’s not like the others. I could tell he was afraid, not trusting not knowing what to expect from me. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect from him. After watching him for awhile, I thought it best to let him have his space.
I started working with the others keeping a close eye on him. I was reading his body language, which sometimes that’s all you have: closed down, don’t trust, abandoned, I’ve been hurt – just stay away. That is what Red was telling me in the silence.
As I took the group through a series of exercises I noticed Red seemed a little more at ease; In fact he came over to watch what we were doing. He stayed in the back, but he did come over. There was a change. He trusted enough by being in the group to look at me. I was able to make some eye contact with him and since he saw I didn’t hurt the others, maybe it would be ok for him to get involved. Patience, I just have to be patient.
I occasionally looked his way and sometimes I would smile when and if it felt right. He on the other hand would look right past me, but his eyes smiled, another Change. “Keep Looking for the signs” I thought to myself.
We finally got close to each other in the group and he started to gravitate towards me. I was able to reach out and touch his head as if to say, It’s all right. He responded with a sigh…another Change.
The rest of the day seemd like only minutes had past. This brave young heart was now participating and was trusting again. He wanted to be involved. He thrived on the achnowledgment that he was “ok” and that everything was going to be ok.
He was trusting for the first time in a long time; he started moving with confidence. His spirit was coming back. We had touched each other’s hearts and we were both better for it.
As they were heading out the arena door to make the long jounrey home, I walked right up to Big Red, looked him straight in the eyes and told him he had changed my life today. With tears in his eyes we shook hands and we left as friends. I still hear from Red, from time to time and I often think how our paths crossed that day and how we changed each others life.