by John T. McLarty  |  6 September 2019  |

When I come out to the pasture
The bull calf races about kicking up his heels
A wild, rambunctious ballet.
Even when I don’t come out
He cavorts about, especially if his cousin joins in
Though she’s getting a bit old for such folly.
He frolics, explores, adventures,
Independent, sufficient, and free,
Then back to Mom.
Always back to Mom.
Butt against her side
Eyes toward the world
Toward the intruder, me.
Safe. Home.
Then out again
Untethered and free,
Apron strings cut,
Mom forgotten
For long minutes of wild adventure and abandon.
Then something spooks him
Or hunger speaks.
He circles back to mom
Butt to her side, eyes out.
Or head to her udder, tail wagging.

The calf is transparent, easy to read,
In his leaping flamboyance,
His bullish ebullience
His confidence with Mom at his back.
His milk bar and castle.
His guardian, haven, and home.

The center of his world.

Mom, statuesque, takes longer to read
But through a decade plus
Of winters together
And sweet summer days
And hard births
And sickness and health
I’ve watched the great shaggy beast
And her way with her calves,
Her unblinking vigilance
Her solicitude and care,
The ferocity and softness of mom.

For the calf she’s the center
That’s easy to see.
But equally true,
He is the perimeter
The bound of her world.
Her eyes seek no further than where he cavorts
Her heart asks only,
Where is he?
How is he?

If he does not come
She calls.
If still, he stays away
She goes.

She’s his.
He’s hers.

God is like a cow.

John McLarty is senior pastor at Green Lake Church in Seattle and host of Talking Rocks Geology Tours, camping trips in the American Southwest.

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