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Veterinary Story of Grace

As a veterinarian, I worked with quite a few newborn foals that couldn't quite get the hang of nursing.  Enough so that during foaling season we would shake our heads and say there is nothing stupider than a newborn foal!  Many times the mare was so full of milk she was uncomfortable, leaking milk, and even sqirting it out of her udder as she moved.  And yet the foals couldn't quiiiite figure what it was they needed, and how to get it into their hungry stomachs.  Some foals would charge about with an attitude and try to nurse on almost anything in sight--fences, every part of each of the mare's legs, her side, tangle up in her tail--try everything but the mare's udder.  I would get them close to the mare and provide a fence with my arms and the mare's body.  Some foals would just sort of shrink into themselves.  I could put my finger in their mouth, and lead their lips right up to the udder, and aaaalmost get the nipple in their mouth, but then they would mouth it, grit their gums, shake their head and back up or try the mare's ankle.  Others would just sort of stand there, waiting, demanding.  They resisted being moved, and if you did ignore their stiffened splayed out legs and pryed and shoved them next to the right end of the mare, and if you pushed hard against the back of their head to position it so they could find the nipple, that foal would arch that neck and push right back against you just as hard as it could, and all that was accomplished was to make the foal resist.  You can't force a nursing posture on a foal!  No matter what technique I used--fencing them in with my arms, leading their mouth to the nipple, even milking the mare and tube feeding the foal so it got that all important first milk (colostrum), the primary ingredient was....PATIENCE.

How much patience and loving kindness our God must have to wait with arms outstretched around us, trying to keep us where it is safe and where we might find life, and all the while we go around, flapping our lips and searching elsewhere.  How much patience our God has in trying to draw us toward what is necessary food for life, even though we shake our heads in panic and say no!  not for me!  How much patience and lovingkindness our God must have to resist cranking us into shape although we go on demanding and resisting with all our might.  It seems so odd that we should have the very stuff of life right in front of us, God's grace and salvation, and we should have such a hard time latching onto it.

- Katharine Worthington, Presbyterian minister and former large-animal veterinarian, posted on Ecunet, 2001