Thinking about religion is a heavy topic. Today I offer a childhood story instead.

Children are impatient creatures. When I was small and lived in Massachusetts and time dripped by slowly as it does for small people, there used to be a yearly family reunion picnic. It was the largest event of my year, The Family Picnic. We’d go to Slater Park in Pawtucket Rhode Island, so close to Attleboro you had but to play hopscotch to get there, and then we’d set up. Coolers, and food for the grill, prizes for contests for the wee ones (like me!), blankets, toys… and then the attractions of the park itself.

There had been a zoo there, a small one, with Fanny the Elephant; there were paths to walk along, a large playground to play upon, a pond to rent paddle boats on (or skate upon in winter), but best of all, best of all, there was a carousel. It was an ancient thing, one of the oldest I knew of, so old that none of the horses bobbed up and down. In the days of my youth, tickets for a ride were 25¢. There were portraits and landscapes and still lifes painted on panels on the center column, and beneath the gaze of a mustached old man in a black bowler hat was my horse.

She was black with a yellow saddle and blanket, and the gems that dotted her harness and tack were half gone, dug out years ago, leaving empty sockets in their place. There were chips missing from her wooden mane. She was beautiful.

Every year, I would ride only her, my horse on the old carousel. And if she was taken, I would sit still and quiet on the original wooden benches until whatever toddler had decided to ride her was done, and I could climb up into the saddle to exult in the wind ruffling my hair and the chords of the carousel music.

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