Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve Will Find Me...

Christmas Eve morning found me in the barn, as usual, raking out stalls and moving “wasted” hay into them. The Lessons and Carols from Cambridge soared throughout, thanks to the radio. My barn became a cathedral or symphony hall for the morning while I worked.

I do not listen for the religious content, but rather for the hope that choral music gives. It is awesome to think that humans can cooperate in a group effort to create such majesty.

“Away in a Manger” -- I wonder if city dwellers know what a manger is. Wasted hay is something goat keepers know about. Goats pull hay out of the manger to eat. What falls on the ground and is stepped on, they will not eat. Goats are pretty careful about that. Good thing, too, because they would be ingesting dirt and parasites otherwise. Now cows -- cows are a different story…

I walk back and forth, dumping buckets of the truly dirty hay and manure raked out and returning with forks full of the relatively clean waste hay. I make the stalls cozy for cold nights and the kidding which I anticipate next month.

I think about the other side of the human coin of cooperation and of how humans can cooperate beautifully to do terrible things. Genocide, religious and ethnic cleansing, for example. I wonder what it is in the human psyche that makes so many want to belong to an exclusive group -- even at the risk of losing their humanity in so doing. I think about the willingness of so many to give up individuality and the ability to do just what I am doing -- questioning man’s place in the universe.

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