instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Dairy of a Country Priest

After the milking this morning, I noticed that Mme. Bessie had remained behind, standing quietly in the shadows by the side entrance. She is a Guernsey, a proud member of a breed my own people have been bred to treat with reverence. Only with great effort did I refrain from bowing my head respectfully as I addressed her, "Git along."

Mme. Bessie did not move. She may not have even heard me, or noticed. She appeared lost in thought, and from her flowed the gentle melancholy of her kind, a conditional resignation to the ways of the world, with yet a hint of resistance, folded upon itself like a creased but unsealed letter which might be read at any time.

As I watched her, I searched my own heart for such a note: the mere awareness of what was, not rising to indignation, but silently marking indignity, which itself points to the dignity overlooked by the world. I felt that I should offer Mme. Bessie some small gesture of comfort, which would redound to my own comfort, yet I feared to presume on her fellow-feeling. And so I merely said, "Ha, cow!," and waved my hand ineffectually.

After a long moment, as though to impress upon me that it was her choice and none of my doing -- which, were she but to understand, she would find is entirely how I would have all the cows treat me -- she turned slowly and lumbered at a stately pace through the double doors. A prayer of thanksgiving for this humiliation reached my lips, but I did not speak it, for I know well I am too worthless to deserve to be humbled.