As many of you know, I raise chickens–only a few at a time–and they have taught me many lessons about friendship, joy, loss and tenderness. I dream, however, of adding goats to our fold one day, and while now is not the time, I often visit with them when we go walking at the Biltmore Estate. Ecotherapy isn’t just about communing with the Creator through gardening, but also caring for the creatures living in it. And sometimes, if we’re lucky, they end up caring for us. This is a repost that I wrote a couple of years ago. ~cameron
After a challenging day yesterday, I left work in a flurry. I was too early to meet my friend for dinner and did not want to sit in the parking lot of the restaurant–I needed to do something for my spirit. Then it dawned on me, “I have an annual pass to the Biltmore Estate!” I could go visit with the goats and engage in some creation care for my soul.
In the last few years, one of the “lessons learned” for me (and that I keep practicing with intention) is understanding that life is not black and white. I don’t have a “good day” or a “bad day,” I just have a day with various feelings and situations intertwined. And while most of those are to be celebrated, there are times when the challenges seem to weigh heavier on the scale of life. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit and my spiritual director, I’m learning how to balance that scale with a bit of perspective and prayer.
As I drove up to the area where the farm animals are housed, I passed a family of Canadian geese with several new goslings following along behind. I will admit that it made me giddy to see the little ones following Mama and Papa around the field–those furry little bodies toddling and waddling in the tall grass.
When I reached the parking lot near the goat pen, I glanced over and spied 6 sweet friends munching on dinner. I strolled over to the pen and sat down in the grass.
There is something about a goat that appears eternally cheerful, gentle, and kind. Something that invites you to seek a connection, even if the goat ends up nibbling on your jeans.
As I settled in, one sweet soul came over to the fence, nudged her head through and started nuzzling my hand. I felt my chest rise and fall with the deep breath I’d been needing to take all day. What joy! What grace.
While I appreciate that God has called people to be responsible stewards of the Earth, I daresay that yesterday, those goats were the ones caring for creation. They helped me find the peace in the middle of chaos and managed to even tip the scales in a new direction.