Years ago I officiated at a funeral for Bob Blevins, a life-long cattleman. He was born down the road from his ranch, attended school in a building that no longer exists, married a gal from across the canyon. Except for three years during the war, he never left his hometown area.
About two hundred folks drove down the dirt road to the cemetary, then up the mountain and parked in a cow pasture. We had to hike up to the gravesite. A typical cowboy funeral, most of the men and half the ladies wore boots, hats, bandannas. I heard more than one pair of jingling spurs. Bob’s wife displayed a pretty bouquet of flowers in one of his old boots. Gretel, his cow dog, searched through the crowd for her master. And Spade stood at the gate, saddled up, but with no rider.
In the old days an empty saddle meant a danger signal. A horse showing up at the headquarters like that warned of a rider who had met with harm. He could be on foot in treacherous ground or injured. . .or dead.
There’s other empty places to pay attention to--voids and vacancies that indicate something’s wrong. Like an empty chair at the dinner table. . .or an empty pew. The world’s filled with diversions and disasters. . .and dying. A horse with an empty saddle rallied the ranch to head out and rescue a stranded compadre. Jesus had the same habit of leaving everything to go find some lost sheep.
Empty saddles can mean there's someone to mourn or some soul to find. Is a spiritual posse needed where you live, to go search for a missing rider?