by John C. Miller

--A call to you, young person--

This story begins in a vast and rich field where the grassy and fertile hills are furrowed by streams of bubbling waters. Here two colts play with unrestricted liberty. They had always enjoyed this freedom together. One named Blacky, was as black as a carbuncle and the other, Pinta, was black and white. One day while trotting along together in a field, they noticed a cloud of dust in the distance. Investigating this further they came upon a road. Suddenly something they had never seen before, or even imagined existed, was in their view - a splendid carriage pulled by six magnificent white steeds. The carriage reflected the color of gold from the setting sun. They drew nearer and saw its exquisite beauty and impressive artwork. Purple curtains veiled any sight of its interior. This royal carriage, gleaming in the dusk, was returning from a long journey from far away places. It was returning to the heart of the land where the king's palace was found. It advanced slowly and they clearly heard a voice from within ordering the coachman to halt and rest.

Since the carriage stopped directly in front of them, the colts could easily observe these steeds. They especially noticed the one who seemed rather old. With great affection, the coachman called this one Prince. Even the other five more vigorous ones showed signs that their youthful days were passing. Unlike other times, they would have galloped on home, but now that their strength had declined, the king, with tenderness, let them rest. Before this incredible scene, the colts, who understood neither carriages nor harnesses, became worried. They began neighing, bucking and galloping from one side to the other, inviting those steeds do the same. They couldn’t understand why they stayed quiet and still instead of following them in the joy of their freedom. But those six steeds had learned something that the colts did not know: to be still and quiet until they heard the orders of the master. Then the king gave the command and the carriage horses once again began the march to their destination.

Meanwhile, the colts returned to the enjoyment of the open fields, the streams, and their freedom, until one day when they were lassoed and dragged to the stables of the palace. There they were corralled with high fences and locked gates. For the first time they experienced confinement. Uselessly they tried to free themselves, but their efforts just left them hungry, thirsty and without strength. Finally their own weakness caused them to cease their fretting and be still. Then they saw a man enter. They recognized him as the coachman of the carriage they had seen on the road. Immediately he began his work of training. He used halters, bits, and a whip - strange equipment that limited them, stopped them in their tracks, and caused them to change their course.

It all frightened them, but regardless they came to learn the discipline of the coachman. Both were angry and sad, and grieved their lost liberty. Nevertheless, there was something different, almost beautiful in this place that, in spite of the rigorous training, made it pleasing. To begin with, the food was tasty and nutritious, and the flavor of the water was so special that it not only satisfied their thirst but made them happy. But even with the advancement of training, Pinta still missed his freedom and the fields and the streams, and being able to do what he wanted. Then one day the gate was left open and Pinta saw his opportunity. Night arrived and a small push was sufficient to open the path before him to return to freedom. All it took was a quick gallop and he was on the outside. He turned to wait for his companion in adventure to follow, but Blacky stayed inside. With his neighing from outside Pinta invited him to follow. This was their opportunity! But there was something in that place that Blacky liked. Was it the food? the water? the voice of the trainer? his tenderness in spite of the rigor? That was the first big decision of Blacky's renounce his liberty.

The next morning the trainer noticed the open gate, the absence of Pinta, and Blacky all alone with his head down in the middle of the corral. He just smiled and from that day on he never shut him in again, as if to say, "If you want to leave as well, you can." Also from that day, the training coachman began every evening to bath Blacky in a red liquid. Blacky had no idea what it was for. He couldn't tell these bathing routine made the slightest difference. Meanwhile, in the training sessions, the whip ceased, and for a time the only demand was obedience and to learn the language of the master. Soon he understood the meaning of the words "still", "walk", and "gallop".

The training continued, and also the daily baths with the red liquid. Blacky often had the opportunity to see those radiant white steeds that he so admired. Since he was born completely black he had all the more reason to admire them. Time passed and he continued growing and becoming stronger with the food served him. Then one day a great commotion surprised him - Prince, the lead horse, had died. Prince, who Blacky had so respected, and who in spite of his years, was still beautiful with his radiant whiteness. All this beauty enhanced by the adornments with which the coachman decorated his harness.

A little later the king entered the stable and Blacky at last saw him for first time. With great seriousness the king talked with the trainer. They drew near to Blacky, and the king nodded his head. After that the trainer took Blacky to the courtyard of the palace where the royal carriage was waiting. Only five horses were yoked, not six, to pull it. In the place of the missing horse was only a harness. There the trainer put Blacky in the place of Prince. He used on Blacky Prince’s harness and all the beautiful adornments that embellished it. Again the king came by, but this time he spoke to Blacky, "Now you are clean." Blacky didn’t understand, but it was then that he noticed something had happened to him. Those daily baths with the liquid as red as blood had slowly changed the color of his coat. The change had occurred so slowly and gradually that he never noticed it, but now he sparkled as white as the rest of the steeds of the king.

Often the carriage of the king set out to travel. New white horses took the places that were left by their predecessors. One day, while returning from a trip, the coachman stopped along the way and while they were resting a neighing could be heard from off to the side. Looking that way they saw with horror that it was Pinta. He was not like they had known him before. He was skinny, his coat had darkened, and his patches now were terrible wounds of infirmity. He was diseased with rickets and dying. While the king's horses had received their food every day at the king's stables, in the rest of the land there was a great drought. Freedom didn't provide Pinta with either food or water.

Now having before him those strong and beautiful white horses, Pinta agonized to himself, "Oh how I would like to be like one of them, but it is not for me. They were born white. I am not like them. The King is unjust. He only chooses the special ones." He didn’t recognize the one among them who had been his very black companion. Pinta lived in his liberty, and there, in his liberty, he died.

For centuries, the King's carriage has traveled the roads of the earth, pulled by the white horses that have been so arduously trained. Today, in this generation, the horses that pull the carriage grow older, and in the training stables there are only a few left. Many enter, but when they have an opportunity, and when the training becomes hard and the discipline heavy, they long for their freedom. Although the food is good and desirable, few stay to be whitened with the blood of the Lamb, to learn His language, and to understand and obey His orders. I ask myself if this carriage of the glory of His presence will arrive to your generation. It came to my generation because there were horses that brought it. Yes, it has arrived this far. If the King's carriage is to arrive to your generation, you will have to carry it. You, Blacky. Yes, you. If other generations will know what I have known and see what I have seen, someone will have to change his freedom for the bit - his "go wherever I want" and "do whatever I want" for the harness of the King.