"..It's the chance of a lifetime
in a lifetime of chance
And it's high time to join in the dance
it's high time to join in the dance..."
My husband and I went to see Disney's Secretariat at midnight, on the day before its opening in theatres. I was sure we'd be standing in long lines, and was surprised to see that we were the only ones at the ticket counter. Where was everyone? I was as excited as a school girl. As we found our seats (30 minutes early) in the empty auditorium, I could barely contain my happiness. I was nervously impatient with the silly previews (something I normally enjoy). I wanted opening credits, a title screen, the first appearance of a "Big Red" stallion. This was a story I'd loved for a long, long time.
I remember the 1973 Kentucky Derby, like it was yesterday. Sitting on the avocado green, sculptured-loop carpet in my best friend's living room...eating popcorn and drinking TAB...while we waited for the horses to appear...emerging from the bowels of the stabling area...on their way to the starting gate. My heart thumping, my palms sweaty, I searched the television screen for the first glimpse of him. Then, there he was.
Like so many girls (most of them much younger than I was at the time) I had a crush on a horse. And not just any horse, this was a very special horse. This was a horse whose story had captured the heart of a nation. But I felt like I had seen him first. From his first appearance in horse magazines, I'd been making pencil drawings of him on notebook paper, dreaming of him, wondering what it would be like to ride him. I was short, I was little, why couldn't I be a jockey???
Secretariat was the object of my affection. He was tall...16 hands of pure muscle. He was fast...the Kentucky Derby in under 2 minutes. He was handsome...a deep rich chestnut thoroughbred. And he was much safer to be in love with, than any boy.
Dan Fogelberg's "Run for the Roses" talks about "chance" but for me, Secretariat's success on the racetrack had nothing to do with chance, and everything to do with heart. I'd been following his story like the rise of a young rockstar. and there was no question in my mind that Secretariat had the heart of a champion. He certainly had mine. I rankled at any suggestion that his potential was based on chance, luck, breeding, or investors, rather than his right to run...to do what he was meant to do because of his relationship to God. Even when I wasn't sure about this spiritual fact for myself, I was sure of it for him.
One of my favorite Bible stories is that of the man who was "born blind." Jesus disciples are baffled that they cannot heal him of his blindness and so they bring his case to Jesus. Jesus gently rebukes their question, "who did sin, this man or his parents that he was born blind?" with the paradigm-shifting, "neither did this man sin, nor his parents, but that the works of God may be made manifest."
He then spits in the dust, makes clay of the spittle, anoints the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and then asks him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam - "which is by interpretation, 'Sent'". The antidote to being born blind, was seeing oneself as sent...sent by God, sent for a holy purpose, sent to manifest the works of God.
How often do we see ourselves as "borne (carried) blindly through life by chance, circumstances of family...wealth, poverty, academic legacy, genetic-predisposition to a certain level of intellectual rigor...political leanings, acculturation, nature, nurture...you name it.
But we are not "borne blindly." We are "sent" into each moment with a heart for every task put before us. It is our fidelity to that "heart" that fulfils our right to be the manifestation of God's work...the coincidence of divinity with humanity, moment-by-moment...every second of every day.
I believe this was true for Secretariat. He just "showed up" with a heart full of wonder. He was not genetically predisposed to winning. He was not an anomaly of chance. He was spiritually predisposed to being Secretariat. To being the manifestation of God as "horse"...full of wonder, joy, eagerness, determination...heart. He was a horse with a heart for every task put before him.
He was verb-driven, not noun-defined. He wasn't running Belmont any differently than he ran his home track at Meadow Farm. He didn't run for jockey Ron Turcotte, differently than he ran for trainer Eddie Sweat, or beloved owner Penny Tweedy...he just ran.
There's a lesson in this story for each of us. When we run, really run, our race...the race that is "set before us", day-by-day, moment-by-moment, with a heart that fully understands it has been sent, and is bursting with a desire to live in service to its divinely appointed purpose, we "win" our own spiritual triple crown...self-knowledge, humility, and love.
I love you "Big Red"... still do,
Kate Robertson, CS
Here is a link to Secretariat's hear-stopping win of the 1973 Preakness which wrapped up his Triple Crown.