This morning as I was making breakfast and preparing my daughter’s lunch for horse camp, I was informed that our elderly goat was kidding. (Not cracking wise, but having babies.) We had hoped that she might have one more batch of kids, but her due date was two weeks past. The next hour flew by with preparations of one child off to horse camp, trying to calm the horse who was left behind, Lady, preparing for goat birth all the while reminding small humans to eat their breakfast and brush their teeth.
Finally when the camp people and horse were feed and departed, I sat next to our goat, Sally, and held her head in my lap as she labored. I thought of Jean-Pierre de Cassade.
“Every current, every technique, thrusts us onward in our voyage to the Infinite. Everything work to this end and, without exception, helps us towards holiness” (Cutsinger, 35).
How could I be a calming presence to Sally and Lady? “Where is the holy in this?” I wondered. I thought of C.S. Lewis “The objects around me, and my idea of “me”, will deceive if taken at their face value. But they are momentous if taken as the end-products of Divine activities. Thus and not otherwise the creation of matter and the creation of mind meet one another and the circuit is closed.” (164).
Sally was struggling. She had been in labor too long and we both knew it. “How, Lord, does this thrust me onward in my voyage to the Infinite?” I rubbed her belly and under her chin. When the first kid came, we breathed a sigh of relief. Breathing. Bonding. Check.
But the second kid didn’t come for a while, and when he did, I knew. As best as I could, I helped, but he was gone before he got here. I wanted, as I have done in the past when these lifeless ones are born, to hide him away from his mother. This time though I thought of de Cassade, “Our only satisfaction must be to live in the present moment as if there were nothing to expect beyond it.” (35).
I laid his little body before her. She licked him, working to bring him back. She called to him, working to call him to life. But he was gone. This present moment called for both celebration and grief. Two sides of the same coin, it seems one cannot exist without the other. A paradox of presence perhaps, (too much alliteration?) where what “thrusts us onward in our voyage” is the encounter of the Infinite, (what is more infinite than the cycle of life and death?), who is not only in the present, but is Presence.
References are from Not of This World: A Treasury of Christian Mysticism compiled and edited by James S. Cutsinger