Getting a Grip

In the Pasture–Julien Dupre`


This painting by French realist Julien Dupre` resonated with me this past week. I know well the feeling of pulling against a momentum determined to break free of the strength I can muster to keep it under control. This is what my life often feels like, both on the farm and at work. It seems I am barely hanging on, at times losing my grip, my feet braced but slipping beneath me.

The full-uddered cow in the painting is compelled to join her herd in a pastoral scene just across the creek, but the milk maid must resist the cow’s escape. For the cow’s benefit and comfort, she must be milked. The cow has another agenda. She has snapped her rope tie, almost pulled up the stake, and in a show of strength and determination, the maid braces to pull a much larger animal around to retie her and restore things to how they were.

The action suggests the maid may succeed, but the cow’s attention is directed far afield. She doesn’t even feel the tug on her halter. We’re not fully convinced the cow won’t suddenly pull loose and break away from the maid’s grip, leaping the stream, tail raised straight in the air like a flag of freedom.

Right now, as spring advances rapidly with grass growing thick in the pastures, our horses can smell that richness in the air. Sometimes this tug of war takes place when my plan is different than the horse’s. The fields are too wet for them to be out full time yet, so they must wait for the appropriate time to be released to freedom. The grass calls to them like a siren song as I feed them their portion of last summer’s uninviting hay. They can pull my shoulders almost out of joint when they are determined enough, they break through fences in their pursuit of green, they push through stall doors and lift gates off hinges. Right now I’m barely an adequate counterbalance to the pursuit of their desires and I struggle to remind them I’m on the other end of their lead rope.

Each day I try too hard to restore order in my life, on the farm, in the house, in my clinic, with my patients and coworkers, with my family. I want to pull that cow back around, get her tied up and relieved of her burden of milk so that it can nurture and replenish others. Sometimes I hang on, only to be pulled along on the ground, roughed up in the process. Sometimes I just let go and have to try to catch that cow all over again.

Once in awhile I successfully get the cow turned around and actually milked without a spill.

I’ve held on. I’ve got a grip.
And maybe, just maybe, I will make cheese….



5 thoughts on “Getting a Grip

  1. Is that a huge wooden mallet in the right foreground of the painting? It takes strength just to pick that up much less drive a stake into the ground for the rope to tether and then milk the cow. That’s going to be some tasty cheese – with a story to match. Thx!


  2. Thank you, Emily, for reminding me once again that I’m not the only one struggling against these forces, including escaping horses! I love the painting! With the Lord’s help, He can use us to make delicious cheese!
    His blessings to you in all of these endeavors.


  3. Great story, Emily. Who said that women are the weaker sex?
    Like the single pic of the beautiful, carefree graceful Haflinger. I’m assuming it is a filly? (What I know about equine gender would fill a thimble – especially when I can’t see from this angle.
    Your apt comment could be a metaphor for one greatly tempted to something (or someone) and the Holy Spirit
    trying to rein the tempted one back — through grace of course and not with the tool this farmer is using.


  4. Alice,
    Tony (aka Wheaton) is definitely a gelding but was doing his “foofy” thing out on pasture for the first time this spring yesterday, so all the hair can look a little girlie 😉


  5. You may ahve seen this, but I thought one of my favorite bloggers might like it. ANDREW JONES: A BLOGGERS PRAYER Our Father who lives above and beyond the dimension of the internet Give us this day a life worth blogging, The access to words and images that express our journey with passion and integrity, And a secure connection to publish your daily mercies. Your Kingdom come into new spaces today, As we make known your mysteries, Posting by posting, Blog by blog. Give this day, The same ability to those less privileged, Whose lives speak louder than ours, Whose sacrifice is greater, Whose stories will last longer. Forgive us our sins, For blog-rolling strangers and pretending they are friends, For counting unique visitors but not noticing unique people, For delighting in the thousands of hits but ignoring the ONE who returns, For luring viewers but sending them away empty handed, For updating daily but repenting weekly. As we forgive those who trespass on our sites to appropriate our thoughts without reference, Our images without approval, Our ideas without linking back to us. Lead us not into the temptation to sell out our congregation, To see people as links and not as lives, To make our blogs look better than our actual story. But deliver us from the evil of pimping ourselves instead of pointing to you, From turning our guests into consumers of someone else’s products, From infatuation over the toys of technology, From idolatry over techology From fame before our time has come. For Yours is the power to guide the destinies behind the web logs, To bring hurting people into the sanctuaries of our sites, To give us the stickiness to follow you, no matter who is watching or reading. Yours is the glory that makes people second look our sites and our lives, Yours is the heavy ambience, For ever and ever, Amen

     Bill Mooney, Hermitage, TN

    “I’m not an optimist, but I’m a prisoner of hope.”  Desmond Tutu

    From: Barnstorming To: Sent: Sunday, April 23, 2017 9:13 AM Subject: [New post] Getting a Grip #yiv1920163125 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1920163125 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1920163125 a.yiv1920163125primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1920163125 a.yiv1920163125primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1920163125 a.yiv1920163125primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1920163125 a.yiv1920163125primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1920163125 | briarcroft posted: ” This painting by French realist Julien Dupre` resonated with me this past week. I know well the feeling of pulling against a momentum determined to break free of the strength I can muster to keep it under control. This is what my life often ” | |


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