Stories were being shared of growing up “back in the day” in small southern towns. I suppose the open admission of cow tipping was inevitable, but I was still caught off guard. Seriously? I had heard of cow tipping, but I must admit this was my first time meeting a couple of bonifide cow tippers. I was beyond curious. “Is it like rocking a small car?” I asked picturing the time I saw several large football players attempt to roll a Volkswagon on it’s side. “You just get a couple of big fellas, shoulders down and hit it hard,” came the reply. The other cow tipper made it sound even easier, “If you think about it,” he said “cows are not meant to move laterally. Cows rarely move backward, almost always move forward, and seldom have reason to move laterally…they are very unstable from the side.” I was a bit stunned by this application of physics to cow tipping.
I pictured the poor cow standing in a sleep-induced stupor alone on a hilly terrain. How startled the cow must have been to find his body pushed a direction it was not planning to go. Unprepared to compensate for the new sensation of being moved sideways it could not adjust in time and soon found itself on its side on the ground.
I wondered how cows might prepare for such an affront. Maybe they could purchase stabilizing bars like the ones found on test vehicles to prevent rollovers during extreme turns. Maybe they could stand with their legs further apart giving them a wider more stable base. On the other hand,…maybe they could stand close to one another while asleep. Seems to me that if unplanned lateral movement was their weakness then having other cows around would help keep them upright…yes, that would do I think.
The day I heard this story I felt a lot like those cows. My cousin, Gary Cato, had passed unexpectedly. We had gathered at his home following his funeral. There in his kitchen, family and friends shared stories of growing up with him and the privilege of knowing him. The stories of his life, and the impact he had on those around him, helped ease some of the ache felt by those who understood what an amazing husband, father, and son he was.
When I heard of his death, I felt like a cow that had just been tipped. I was NOT ready for the impact of those words. I found it difficult to adjust to what had occurred. I only had plans to move forward. There was the phone call I intended to make, the e-mail I composed in my head but never sent, the opportunity to know him better that was never taken…I did not expect this emotional hit that would cause imbalance and change the direction of things. But life does indeed sometimes hit us from the side.
How often do we look forward, brace for known challenges, only to find ourselves spinning from the chaos of life. I know I am not the only tipped cow. Maybe you’ve experienced unexpected loss, hurt or challenges. Maybe you know what it’s like to find yourself asking what happened, how did we get here, how are we going to get back up. Here is what I know….the cow may be surprised by it’s tipping, but God has His eyes on the cow. God is not surprised by our loss, hurts or challenges. He is with us in it all. He surrounds us with loved ones, family and friends, who stand with us, press against us and help keep us upright.
Life may not always meet my expectations, but my God never fails me.
“The Lord is near the broken hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
Lord, I pray you bring comfort and peace beyond all comprehension to those whose hearts are broken, whose spirits are crushed, restore thier joy that they may once again find their feet under them and strength to stand firm against the world. Amen