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Priest Laurie Brock of Lexington to discuss ‘Horses Speak of God’ at Trinity Episcopal Church tonight

By Vicki Prichard
NKyTribune reporter

In the crisp chill of an October weekend, many Kentuckians will make their way to Keeneland to gather around the track and place their bets on sleek, powerful horses to be the first to nose their way beyond the finish line.

Laurie Brock, an Episcopal priest serving at St. Michael of the Archangel in Lexington, sees many reasons to celebrate these majestic creatures, and she’ll be sharing her insights at Trinity Episcopal Church in Covington on Friday, October 12, at 6:30 pm when she discusses her book, Horses Speak of God: How Horses Can Teach Us to Listen and Be Transformed.

Brock, who is also a former attorney, says she came to experience a holy and healing power of horses when she enrolled in riding lessons not long after she began her role as priest at St. Michael’s. Sitting through clergy meetings and hearing conversations about the church, issues, and controversies, she realized she didn’t want to be a person that didn’t have a life beyond the church.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to have to go out and do something about that,’” says Brock. “I’d heard through the seminary the importance of self-care, and that I’d better get a hobby, but I’d never heard why.”

Through Groupon, she found and purchased horseback riding lessons.

“I couldn’t have told you what saddle seat riding was, I just thought it was a good idea,” says Brock. “I rode, took one lesson a week, and then I bought a horse.”

The ‘barn family,’ as she calls it, quickly became her space where she could go and no one would ask about the previous week’s sermon. The horses became something more to her.

Brock says her spiritual director noticed that she would look at a church situation from the lens of her experiences at the barn with the horses. If someone was frustrated with something in the church, she would relate it to a frustrating experience while riding.

“The more I started to think about it, we are so involved in religion and spirituality, and I don’t like to separate those two things, that we almost miss it because we’re seeing it all the time,” says Brock. “Sometimes we’re so familiar with it we forget to notice it. For me, horses were a way for God to say, “Notice this wonderful idea of faith. Notice this idea of courage,” and then I can relate back to it in a different way.”

Horses Speak of God speaks to the struggles many people have with the institutional church, and Brock believes it will likely appeal most to those who feel they have connected with God on a deep level outside of the church, through everyday pastimes, or in emotional moments.

“The thing about horses is you cannot lie to them, they know when you’re anxious,” says Brock. “I may not come off the ride totally calm, but for that ride, I have to pay attention to my anxiety. I have a line in the book about meditating on the back of a 1200-pound animal.”

For Brock, riding is a very focused activity where she is engaged in a relationship to the horse.

“Riding horses is a beautiful embodiment of our relationship with God, because I’m in a relationship with his living, breathing creation of God who has in many times has her own opinion about this and I have to work with that relationship if it’s going to be a safe and good ride. It reminds me of the movement of relationship with humanity.”

Brock writes with edgy honesty and a keen wit. Her discussion and book signing at Trinity Episcopal Church will include a special dinner prepared by the FreshLo Chef and live jazz by the Avery Greene Quartet. Childcare is provided.

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