the pollinating of goats and other things that go well...
I sent Clara and Hazel on a vacation of sorts, one that changed up their environment and let them hang out intermittently with Magic, the little buck (who is not at all little anymore) who "pollinated" them last year (a term my friend and keeper of Magic used today). Clara was ready to engage, get the business done, and come home. Hazel, who thinks things through and makes decisions more slowly, took a full week to ready herself for Magic to do his, well, magic.
Yes, breeding season is upon us again, and I am expectant and excited and surprisingly not crippled by fear from last spring's hard birthing season (Clara's late miscarriage and Sophie's struggle to mother). Partly I'm an optimistic soul, even if to a fault. Partly, I'm been thinking about how so much goes right every day, compared to how much goes wrong.
I woke up this morning, after all, with a heart beating and lungs taking in breath. I woke up to a foggy fall day in October--which is as it should be--with wet soil in the woodland garden, red leaves on the sugar maple, and a greening growing lawn. I can mail a package at the post office and anticipate it will arrive at its destination in a reasonable amount of time. I can drive by schools, churches, and coffee shops and be confident that good things are happening there (even if also, yes, some hard things).
I wonder if being attuned to the little and big things that go right is a kind of gratitude, which is a kind of prayer.
Still, cynicism comes easy these days, these years. After recounting how Christianity lost its way, how it became tangled up in politics and economics and forgot the central message of hope and love that Jesus embodied, Richard Rohr wrote:
"Now, I know it’s easy to be cynical, to look at the disastrous effects of Christianity’s complicity with empire and want to give up on the whole endeavor, but I also want to proclaim that the flow of grace is a truly wonderful thing. Even inside of each of those iterations, misguided as they were—and we still are today—humble, loving people emerged—in every one of them."1
So we (Mark and I) were talking about these things over breakfast this morning, and agreed that grace flows into the cracks and crevices of all things. We noted that more often than not people don't engage in destructive road rage. People are willing to wait in long lines with surprising patience. Coaches, priests, teachers, doctors, police officers, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons are generally wanting to do, and doing, good in the world, hoping to flourish and to participate in the flourishing of their families, neighborhoods, and communities. Though one could assume so, I do not mean to sugar coat all that goes tragically wrong. People lose jobs, health, freedoms, their lives. We go wrong on a regular basis as our racism, sexism, consumerism, selfishness, aggressiveness, wounding and proud selves bully out our kinder and more generous selves. But to only focus on how we (or others) go wrong is to miss the kindnesses, the compassion, and the movements toward justice and redemption that are also, and more pervasively, everywhere, in our own hearts and the hearts of those we criticize. Especially perhaps, in Earth's seasons and cycles that sustain all life.
After all, usually goats carry their babies to term, birth them without difficulty and mother them well. Most often seeds sprout and grow and produce flowers and fruit. But even when they don't--when goat babies and plants die, when our words and choices terminate a relationship, when fires destroy what will take years to recover, when politics and economics fill a decade with pain, division, and hate, when the climate's changing means multiple species die, when so much bad happens that we doubt there can be a future where anything flourishes--even then Grace flows into the cracks and crevices.
I choose to believe in the power of that flow. The redemptive work of God may not unfold the way I think it should, or look the way I long for it to look, but in the long arc of history I choose to believe the Sustaining Love and Giver of Life extends a grace which not only holds the universe together, but redemptively bends it back toward all God is.
So today I will think on all the things that go right, and stand amazed, and be grateful.
Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation. Daily Devotions. "Christianity and Empire," Oct. 18, 2021.