Jenny's ride

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Jennifer awakes on a beach at night, and meets Hrim-Faxi,
the horse who draws the chariot of night in Norse mythology.
Hrim-Faxi is wise and
good, and he shows her the wonders of the night. Is he also
an angel or is it all a dream? Jenny's Ride is spiritual
without denominational
references. A child on the verge of adolescence will be
comforted by Hrim-Faxi’s final words: “Some day you will
be too old to believe in me. But
do not be sad about it, Jenny. Even then I will come to you
in dreams so that you can be a child again.”

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Jenny's ride

  1. 1. Copyright 2012 by the author. Except for personal non-commercial usage, reproduction of thetext or any image is prohibited without the express written permission of the copyright holder.
  2. 2. Jennifer lived in an apartment building in a great city. The daysthere were fun. There were school events and playing in the park with herfriends. There was the ice cream store down the street and the library.Jenny loved to read stories of long-ago Greeks and Romans, and of far-offChina and France and Norway. But every night she would have to fallasleep to the sound of traffic passing below her window. The drone of carsdidn’t bother her but their horns did; so too did the occasional yells ofpeople as they argued about something in the street below.
  3. 3. Jenny would try to think of more pleasant things as she went off tosleep, like the time shed visited a cousin who lives by the shore. She couldsometimes recall the sound of the sea as the ocean-water hit the beach inbreakers there. She could remember other sounds and sights from thebeach too ... great big noisy gulls flying just overhead, tall grasses on sanddunes, and occasionally she’d recall even the smell of the ocean and thefeel of the breeze at twilight. What fun it would be to go to the beach again. Before going to bed one night Jennifer looked up at the moon thatstood over the space between her apartment building and the next. Just a bit of twilight was still far down the street in the west. The airwas cool for July and that may be why the sky was so unusually clear and
  4. 4. the full moon so bright. In her bed she began to think about the sandyshoreline. This would be a nice way to doze off. She shut out the sound oftraffic from her mind and focused on that beach; not in daylight as shehad seen it but as it must be at night with that great white moon lightingthe dunes. There would be shadows in the dunes, she thought, and the breakerswould be silver as they rolled in to wash the sand. Yes, it would not be too dark with such a bright moon; and no, it wouldnot be quiet. The breakers would seem very loud with no other sound to beheard. This would be a really special night … so clear, so cool … the kind ofnight there is in stories when wonderful things happen. I will pretend that Iam walking on the sand. It is cool and it is wet. On that sand hill there issome wood that washed up from the ocean. Perhaps it came from an oldsunken boat. It could be very old … from a ship sunk long ago by pirates orby a great storm on the water. Maybe no one lived. Their bones are stillunder the sea. How depressing. Daddy says I shouldn’t think bad things just becauseit is night. I want to have nice dreams. I’ll think about the moon. It is sobright that I cannot see many stars, just those few bright ones. That very bright one where the sun has just faded must be the eveningstar that people talk about … “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight;I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.” I wish that Icould stay awake tonight and see what happens when I’m asleep.
  5. 5. This is what Jenny thought as she walked on the beach in her mind.Far away the beam from a lighthouse swept the sky and further yet therewas a little glow from a village. Jenny knew there was a bridge near thevillage and that it crossed a little bay. There was nothing else to notenearby. At first she could hear little else either. She could not hear thehorse that approached behind her for its trot was muffled by the roaringsea. So Jenny was startled when very gently it came up behind her. Shewas startled but not for long. After all, it was just a horse … even if horses
  6. 6. don’t belong walking all alone along the beach, at night. It had probablygotten loose from its stable and gone for a walk just as she had. But oh!you are so beautiful Jenny thought. He was big, bigger than any horseJenny had ever seen and she had seen quite a few police horses in the city.They were big, very big, but not so big as this one that stood quietlylooking down at her. Yet he was not so big as to frighten a child. Therewas nothing about him that would do that. On his neck he wore a brighthalter which shone in the moonlight. On his back was a blanket of stars. Itmust be the moon on the leather, Jenny thought. But it is like those brightstars themselves are your harness. “They are.” The horse said.
  7. 7. Somehow it did not seem odd to Jennifer on this wonderful nightthat a horse had just spoken to her. “Who are you?” she asked. “I am Hrim-faxi. I bring the dew at dawn. Do not fear me, child.” Jenny’s hand was already in his mane. “Why would I fear you? Youare so beautiful.” Hrim-faxi did not answer but started to walk, and Jennifer walkedbeside him. “May I ride on your back, Hrim-faxi?” she asked in the mostpolite way she knew; and the great animal shook his mane once and kneltso that the child could mount him. “Hold my mane and don’t let go nomatter what happens.” Rising, Hrim-faxi began to walk very carefullyalong the beach. At first he walked on the sand and Jenny, on his back,watched the sand and the moon on the sea. But when Hrim-faxi felt thatshe was secure, he began to trot gently at the very edge of the water andlet the wavelets lap at his hooves and Jenny’s legs. The spray feltwonderful. “Where are we going, Hrim-faxi?” “Where would you like to go? I have till dawn.” The child thought. “You choose since you must be wise.” “I am just a horse. How can I be wise, child?” “Please don’t call me ‘child’; my name is Jennifer.” “I know.” “See, you know my name. You are wise.” “Knowledge is not wisdom, Jenny, as you will learn. But for now...”Hrim-faxi stood high on his hind hooves to know if Jenny would still holdtightly to his mane ... “Good. I will show you the night.” “Is the night wonderful?”
  8. 8. “That must be a judgment. What time or place is more wonderfulthan another? Some things seem wondrous but are only different. Do youthink your home is wonderful?” “No. It is nice though.” “Yes, nice; and wonderful to some children that I know who live inthe country.” The horse said no more for a long time and Jenny held on to histhick mane as little waves passed beneath his hooves. Wetting him, theymade his coat glisten even brighter, then they ran off into the sand again.After awhile, Jenny saw that Hrim-faxi was a little further from thebeach. The water was under his hooves all the time now, and soon it wouldbe high enough to wash her feet. “You aren’t afraid?” he asked “No. Why should I be afraid? You are good.” “Only God is good, child. But we try.” “You called me ‘child’.” “I forgot. Even the horses of the gods sometimes forget.” “Is God your master then?” “Of course."But not as you mean it. Long ago the Norse believed ingreat spirits that they called their gods. I was the horse of the goddessNott, the night. She was beautiful and good. I am glad to have drawn herchariot.
  9. 9. “You say they believed. But you are; so what they believed must havebeen true.” Hrim-faxi said nothing for many minutes. Then he stopped with thewavelets breaking against his legs and the spray teasing the girl. “Yourmind is quick, Jenny. Tell me; since all that happens is from God, which ismore real to Him: you or what you think?” Jennifer could not answer thisand Hrim-faxi continued. “The Norse believed in their gods so they werereal to them and real to Him. It was a poor grasp of the Divine, but theymeant well and God understood if a good man thought of Him as Thor,and of angels as great horses, and of the night as a beautiful woman. Evennow men do not fully understand, cannot understand. Do you think the
  10. 10. creator of the earth and stars has a beard? Maybe not; but can youimagine the Divine in a better way without taking all your fine humantraits from Him? We cannot imagine a love that created everything thatis, but we can imagine someone with a beard who loves us enough to havemade us. ”For awhile Hrim-faxi said no more and Jenny knew that he wasthinking. Then he asked in a gentle voice “Do you believe in me, Jenny?” “Of course. I can feel you and talk with you.” For just a momentthose last words seemed all wrong to the girl, but only for a moment. Shedid indeed feel Hrim-faxi beneath her and surely she was talking to him. A horse, she thought but said nothing. There was, after all, nothing tosay. She was talking to a horse, but a very special horse. “Hrim-faxi raised his head and began to trot again, at first still in thebreaking waves but after awhile further out. Jenny thought it verystrangethat though she felt the cool spray she was not wet. Surely by now theymust be in deep water yet the big horse seemed to only wet his hooves andOh!, she thought, the stars in your harness seem even brighter than before.Now the moon is as bright as it can be, but so too are all the stars in the sky. They passed the lighthouse which somehow did not need to lightanything, even the sea, though its beam was very bright when she lookeddown at it. Then she realized how high they were but could not dwell onthat thought since Hrim-faxi was soon on the bridge, no longer trottingbut galloping along it, seemingly as fast as he was able.
  11. 11. They rode along the bridge toward the horizon where the sun stillgave a line of light at the start of night. It seemed that they rode for hoursand never caught nor lost that line; and the bridge itself was different.The stars were now no longer just overhead but beside and even below it,and in the bridge itself. They shone along girders of brass, a roadbed ofonyx, and in towers of silver. At last Hrim-faxi rode off the span but didnot stop. With Jenny holding onto his mane. ... indeed almost lost in ... heturned sharply and sped through the night down a road that ran betweentall old trees.
  12. 12. How large Hrim-faxi had become; Jennifer looked and felt like just alittle doll on his back. But he had told her not to be afraid and she wouldnot be. Then in a clearing the horse stopped and bowed as though prayingor asking something of his God, with the old trees all about them. Jennyfound herself no longer on his back but watching Hrim-faxi across thefield which was not dark even though it was night, for it was lit by thosemillions of stars that winked at them. After a long while, Hrim-faxi raisedhis head and Jennifer knew that it was time to go somewhere. He spoke toher and Jennifer was again riding a great and beautiful horse.
  13. 13. “Let us go with the night, my rider.” Turning west, Hrim-faxi rushedinto the sky, seeming to pull the night behind him. Jennifer had never feltso peaceful in the dark before. This night was quiet, beautiful, and serene.The moon was bright, not just hanging there, but alive with life. Throughthe stars below them, Jenny could see cities and towns, roads and farms.There were many happy families in those places but on the sad ones Nottdropped a veil of sleep and peace. It was all wonderful. Hrim-faxi knewthe girl’s thoughts: “Sometimes sleep is a gift from God,” he said and said no more.They passed over the great Mississippi River and the plains, over theRocky Mountains and the desert and coast of California.
  14. 14. But now Jenny grew sleepy too and saw nothing and thought nothingas Hrim-faxi drew the chariot of night behind him over the ocean, acrosssleeping Japan and China, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Russia, and the oldcities of Europe. It was not till dawn began to light the streets below that Jenniferawoke. She went to her window just in time to watch night slowly ...reluctantly she imagined … fade into the western sky. What a nice dream, she thought. That is, it must have been a dream.Here I am with my own bed. She wiped a drop of dew from the window. But perhaps a dream can be real too in a way.
  15. 15. Then a thought came to her from nowhere: “Some day you will be too old to believe in me. But do not be sad about it, Jenny. Even then I will come to you in dreams, so that you can be a child again.” Good night, Sweet dreams, Good night.

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