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Thursday, 16 October 2014
I wasn’t expecting the big black horse to be a bully. I thought that as he shared a field with the smaller, older white horse, they would be friends – or at least happy to share with one another.
When I reached their paddock today, two apples jammed in each pocket, the big black one was right there at the fence. I proffered an apple and his big loose lips rippled round it on the palm of my hand until he had it firmly between his (rather large) teeth.
Naively I extended the next apple to the wee white one, prompting an aggressive lunge from Big Blackie. I dropped the apple in surprise and it fell out of reach, within the paddock but within Big Blackie’s domain.
As he was munching I thought it would be safe enough to lob the biggest apple over to Wee Whitey, but alas, no, that just resulted in yet another aggressive pounce at her, causing her to shy behind him.
Finally, he was distracted by his wealth of apples and I was able to give my remaining one to Wee Whitey, whose old teeth didn’t seem able to handle an entire apple at one go. She chomped in and half of it fell to the ground between the stone dyke and the barbed wire – out of both of our reach.
It wasn’t her day for apples I guess.
I left the paddock, remembering a time when I, a small five year old city girl, visited a great uncle on a farm and shared an exciting half hour with my sister feeding a pen of pigs. We were dismayed that the big pigs grabbed all the cobs of corn, leaving the smaller ones without anything. Finally my great uncle removed the big pigs and gave the little ones a chance.
What kind of spiritual lesson can I draw from all that? I’ve been thinking all day about the world’s needs and humanity’s great weakness, greed. Maybe greed exists in the animal kingdom, too.
Jesus told a story once about separating sheep from goats. The difference didn’t exactly lie in who grabbed the most ‘stuff’ ... or did it?
‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
We live in a world of such gross imbalances between rich and poor, starving and obese, homeless and home-rich. It would be divine to see some self-starting generosity from some of those who have more than they need.
I count myself among them.