Full of Grace

See Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Advent 4 (year c), December 23, 2012
“Prepare Him Room”

Mercy, photo by Patrick J. Paglen

Mercy, photo by Patrick J. Paglen

Something happens when I visit the cows that makes me think of the Visitation (Luke 1:39-55). Early in her pregnancy, Mary travels to the hill country of Judah to see her cousin Elizabeth. The Angel Gabriel had told Mary that Elizabeth in her old age had also conceived a child. As the two women approach one another, Elizabeth’s son leaps in her womb. The future John the Baptist recognizes womb to womb One Who is to Come: the Christ.

And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

It is at this moment that Mary, in a state of ecstasy, improvises that great subversive hymn of praise, the Magnificat.

The moment of the womens’ greeting is portrayed movingly in art and literature. But lately, the Visitation comes to mind when I greet the cows.

I’m not involved with the care of the cows. I’ve never milked them. I’ve never given them hay or treats. I only bottle-fed Mercy once. I don’t even visit them every day. And yet, Silmarill, Jiffy, and Mercy respond to my visits with full attention. I feel a connection that evokes a strong sense of Presence that reminds me of deep prayer. An interior shift happens when I am with them that moves the same part of the soul that quickens in meditation. We recognize one another.

Recognition implies a knowing, an acknowledging, a perceiving of truth. What truth emotes from those huge, warm, graceful creatures that fills me with a sense of calm and connection? What sacred thread unites us in that silent and tender mutual acknowledgment? What do we know together that makes me feel at one with them in so short a time?

The answer is probably as complex as the milky way and as simple as prayer. No matter. Something in me leaps for joy, and I leave the pasture full of grace, as the cows return to grazing.

Here is the link to an article I wrote an article about Sister Carol Bernice and the cows for Christian Century earlier this fall. http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2012-11/bovine-offices


One Response to “Full of Grace”

  1. Diane Says:

    Ah yes! And what out numbered humans at the nativity? The blessed animals! The nurturing Joy of Presence is with us! Feliz Navidad! I love that in Spanish even if I don’t spell it right.

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