Last night I walked home from a meeting at the town hall along a graveled road, my path lit by the near-full moon, fat and buoyant in the sky behind me. To my left, a dozen or so yards beyond the roadway’s sloped shoulder, I could hear the mountain stream that runs through the center of town (which is to say, it passes behind the old church). The stream is weak with drought but still makes those pleasing stream sounds, the whispery sluice of water over rock, the burble of water falling and folding on itself, a noise like little beads of some soft alloy.
I turned up our drive and faced the moon in full, and now could clearly see that its light had blued the darkened sky ever so slightly. At the top of the drive, where the barn comes full into view, I saw the cows as I see them so often: Gathered into their small herd, three lying, two standing, all turned the same direction, heads to the west. As if facing something.
Not for the first time, not even close, and surely not for the last, I stood for a minute or two and considered the small comfort of these animals in my life. And how in times of uncertainty or discontent – and yes, of course I have those, probably no less nor more than most – the cows seem always to offer something. It’s not certainty. It’s not an answer to anything, but rather what feels to me like an invitation to share in their evident bovine contentment: The metronomic chewing of cud, the sheer mass of all that warm flesh and long bone against the ground, the faith that the day to come will be not unlike those that have passed. Or perhaps there is such faith – such a deep, embodied faith – that no faith is necessary. Yes. I think that more likely.
I stood a short while longer, then turned away, feeling chilled now, wanting the warmth of the cook stove. I could still hear the weakened stream in the distance, though only just. We sure could use some rain. We’ll get some one of these days.
17 thoughts on “One of These Days”
Your descriptions and word choice create an amazing picture.
Man, you’re such a fine writer! Just lovely.
Thank you, Tricia.
I like “We’ll get some.”
Beautiful. Thank you.
Thanks, John. Give my best to Liz and please tell her the bird is perched in a prominent spot in our house
I like the idea that faith can be so embedded that the active pursuit of it is unnecessary. I’ll enjoy chewing on that myself for quite some time as I so often do after reading your words. Thanks, Ben!
It’s the ‘belief’ in the basics…food, water, shelter, rest.
I feel the same watching the chickens,
it can quiet human societies noise of discontent.
I was in France this spring just north of Bordeaux. One of the neat things as I biked each day was the feeling of the french herds as I passed. The breed they have seem ‘more attentive’ when you ride by, a little ‘more present’. And in general much better managed judging by their coats than in VT. This experience was quite meaningful, thinking about cows, and wondering what they think, or not-think.
Plus, those cows are on 30-hour work weeks and have real nice socialized health care.
Thank you, Ben. You managed to bring better clarity in my understanding of faith than, I dare say, the book of Matthew. Good to be reminded that nature has much to teach us, if we’d only listen.
Oh, so true. There is such pleasure in watching the lives of the animals that share our lives.
Sounds like you’ve found your peace of mind, sounds good. It always fascinates me to contemplate the future, and to contemplate the presumed point of contemplating the future. I guess it’s faith that gets me through, though in what I couldn’t say. Maybe in the rain.
Whoa! That was unintentionally hijack-ish. Mea culpa.