If writers of all ages could imagine worlds and settings and people as effortlessly and perfectly as small children can, writing would be a breeze. Anyone who thinks that small kids are stupid should try to turn a dingy backyard into a magical paradise using a ball, a blanket and their imagination.
Of course, my sister Rain and I had it easy. We had a whole farm to build our world on, and from the ages of about nine and eleven onwards, we slowly build our own beautiful kingdom of which she was the Princess and I was the Prince (princes, as Corin said in The Horse and His Boy, have all the fun. Besides, no one ever said that girls can’t be princes, did they? Did they?). Our kingdom stretched from the marching Shuddering Woods to the great tall dryads that wept in the streams, to Over-the-Hill, Swaelkrans, the Barren Lands and the Great Way. We called it Imaginthia. It was ours.
We had the most glorious adventures in that world; we fought magnificent battles with terrible monsters, hunted the stag who would grant your every wish if you brought him a spot from a brown-and-white spotted cow, rode through gateways to other worlds and raced the storm dragons on the windy days. Black-shouldered kites transformed into flame-winged phoenixes; duikers became silver pygmy unicorns with pixies on their backs. Trees became dryads that danced in dizzy circles. And the jackals? They were wolves – wolves the colour of moonlight in midwinter and the size of ponies.
And the Prince and Princess went everywhere accompanied by their valiant steeds; the Fearless Filly and the Matchless Mare. And matchless that mare remained long after the Prince stashed the remains of her plastic broadsword at the bottom of her wardrobe and replaced it with the Sword of the Spirit.
We built Narnia in our backyard and we loved it. Though now my imaginary worlds are confined, for the most part, between the virtual covers of a Word document, I won’t forget Imaginthia. And some of the names still stick; our little bluegum forest is still the Shuddering Woods; the kikuyu lands retain their old title of Ethelmoor. I never ride through the Woods without thinking about the story of the three greatest, oldest dryads sleeping away until the true King comes. I’m still waiting for a King, only this One is even bigger and better than my wildest dreams could ever imagine.
There was never any Imaginthia without the Matchless Mare. Skye was the queen of that fabled land, and without her, it disappeared. The dryads just became willow trees again. The moonlight wolves faded to little jackals and melted into insignificance. The wonder was gone.
There is still wonder left on the back of that mighty horse, that thunder-clad horse who belongs to God. There is still something about her, something that no other horse I’ve met has ever had, and perhaps I’m the only one who knows it’s there – Skye and Jesus and I. But we know, and that’s enough.
You see, any other horse has only to sneeze for my adrenalin levels to shoot up so fast that I can feel it burning my hands and feet. It’s stupid, I know. I’m working on it. But Skye can leap and buck and rear and prance and bolt as much as she likes and I will never be afraid. God put something special in the heart of that horse that has wonderfully changed the heart of this girl.
In herself, Skye is a wonderful, proud, fearless, fiery creature with not a malicious bone or a timid hair on her; all beauty, all power, all life, all courage. To let me know that He gave her all those things, God put His fingerprint in her neck – a little indent known in horsy circles as a prophet’s thumbprint. She is an amazing horse, but God is all the more amazing, because He’s the one Who made her.
And if I can be that faithful and that fearless on the back of that horse, if I can – calm and unafraid – lay down my life at her hooves (as you do every time you step into the saddle of a horse), then I can lay it down at His feet. That is the key to getting rid of my nervousness. The only way I will ever be able to live my life is to lay it down, for as Jesus Himself says, “He who gains his life shall lose it; and he who loses his life for My sake shall find it.”
While I work at that faith (for faith is a verb), I will ride God’s horse Skye, a beast handmade with love. Because when we fly out there all alone but for the wind and the grass, life is perfect and unlimited. Because we can conquer the world together. Skye and Jesus and me.