Circle of Joy and Sorrow

Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be. -Marcus Aurelius

Monday, May 22, 2006

Epona's Modern Worship

Now if you love horses you already know of the tragedy that struck the second leg of the Tripple Crown last Saturday. 6 p.m. saw post time at the Preakness here in Maryland, where Derby champion Barbaro broke three rear leg bones and dislocated his ankle in one single misstep.

Career ending, the three year old colt stands only a 50-50 chance of survival after 5 hours of surgery yesterday. Looking closely now, the catastrophic level of the injury becomes far more apparent than it did that evening, broadcast at a distance. Even though Barbaro pulled up in the first 100 meters, the Preakness went on and upstart favorite Bernardini won by 5 lengths.

I find it difficult to continue on with my forecast, which I started with the Derby. Watching all the pretty horses in their pre-race lap, I predicted that Barbaro would not even show. The only thing that matters in horse racing are the three fastest in the field: Win, Place, Show. My heart went still watching Barbaro's ears and gate; perhaps there was nothing more in my feelings than an equestrian childhood, but something told me this was not Barbaro's day. Instead, it proved to be his sunset.

I picked Bernadini to Win, Sweetnorthernsaint to Place, and Hemingway's Key to Show. And that's exactly what they did. I feel a little less awful that I don't believe in gambling, considering the tragedy that befell Barbaro.

Waiting for news on Barbaro and watching poor, excited Bernadini's star muted by the shadow of another, I have been thinking of what it means to have your faith shaken. People often speak of tragedy as making them question the favor or power of their god or goddess. And yet I am pagan, and that means something quite radical. While others pray, "Give us our daily bread," it is pagan to say, "Give us our toil and our rest." We rise into the day, we drive on the highways, we race our horses, and we accept the risks we make for ourselves. Pain of defeat, or the winner's rose.

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