A Term From My Youth

back·slide (bksld'):
intr.v. back·slid, back·slid·ing, back·slides
To revert to sin or wrongdoing, especially in religious practice.

When I was a young adult, I spent a great deal of time with my church youth group. It was, for a lot of us, our core social circle, ventured away from on fear of our immortal souls (or in pursuit of acceptance, popularity, and/or third base). We would participate in a lot of pre-arranged activities... beach trips, theme park visits, pool parties... the kind of thing secular people do, but we invited Jesus.

Anyway, one of the the tried-and-true outings was to the old "Natural Bridge", site of a (the) famous north Florida civil war battle, where they have a stable of horses available for riding.

I've been a big guy for a long time. Really, since I started high school, I've been kind of known as a big guy. I've been a few pounds overweight that whole time, but I think that when folks mentioned my size, they were talking about the total package as opposed to only my gut (I didn't think this at the time, but time heals all wounds and most self pre-occupations). The point is that when it was time to be assigned horses for our little trip across Panhandle wilderness, I always got the same steed.

A big, wanna-be draft horse named, aptly, Tiny. Tiny was huge, roughly the size of an SUV. Even with my above-average height and longer-than-normal legs, I had a hard time mounting this beast. She was, I came to realize, the only horse in the stable capable of hauling me around... and she was chronically bored.

Tiny trotted with the kind of lethargy you might expect from a person who shared her nickname. Twice, she actually FELL ASLEEP while we were walking a part of the trail.

Needless to say, horseback-riding did not rank highly among my list of favorite youth-group activities, Jesus or no Jesus. Still, I had a kind of odd affection for Tiny. I happened across an employee of the stables years later, and we toasted the memory of Tiny, who was loved by all of the stable workers, I learned, and had been put out to pasture, with all the cruelty hidden behind the euphemism, on Christmas Day, 2003.

Somehow, I will draw together the metaphor of "getting back in the saddle" with the significance of the word "backsliding", and the fact that I used to ride a huge horse with my church youth group.

I'll get back to you when I figure out how... but for now... drinking water, eating bananas, turning things back in the direction they need to go.

Trying to keep my horse awake.

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