A Cow in a China Shop

A bull in a china shop…you’ve heard that one. That was me, and still is some days. Zeal makes us and breaks us. We get a fire in our heart for God and we want to tell the world. It’s like falling in love. We get this indescribable joy, and we want to jump on a couch, in front of millions of people (ugh…did I really just go there?)  But zeal for God’s love doesn’t fade like the first time we notice that little annoying habit our loved one demonstrates (and they notice ours).  No, God’s love is beyond the best feelings in the world, mixed up and combined together, above and beyond and the only fulfulling thing you will ever encounter and it lasts and does not ever dissappoint. But, perhaps some of us share too much too soon. (I just heard a thunderous ironic laughter from my readers reader. Did I understate that?)

In my first few years of being in love with the one and only true LOVE (which is God), I became a bull in a china shop. Storming into people’s lives with my questions about their faith and beliefs. Then if someone tried to make small talk with me, I would become highly annoyed, because I knew the urgency of this key to life, and wondered why anyone would want to talk about anything else? There are souls so save! Time is running out! We don’t try to “save souls” because we think we are perfect, but because we realize the urgency with which we all must rely on God and turn to His unending mercy. This is my struggle, but this Lent, I would like to become a cow in a china shop instead. Here is my plan.


Cows are funny. Their big hind haunches sway as they meander about the field slowly snooping around in the grass for the best blade to gnaw. The hips aren’t the part of the cow I want to imitate; already got that down. It’s the meandering I would like to practice. If the china shop represents the very precious ground of others’ souls, then I want to be invited in. The cow doesn’t burst in like a bull.  She might hang around window shopping at first. Maybe she heard the  the little bells on the door? She may make big slimy, steamy circles with her soft nose as she exhales on the glass which displays beyond it all the little delicate pieces of china (souls). The store owner might notice her making a mess of the freshly cleaned glass and shew her away, but she isn’t offended or hurt.  The cow doesn’t take personally not being invited in, but moves gently on, to return again another day.


Ever notice how darn slow a cow can chew. Each movement of the jaw is so deliberate and intentional. When they choose what they want to ingest, they bite and eat. But they don’t gulp down their grain like a harried business woman getting a whopper while running too many errands on a short lunch break (I am so glad I have never done that). No, they are fulfulling one of their main tasks in life, to ingest. Producing milk comes along by God’s plan in nature. They eat and the milk is made without effort. They cooperate in making the milk, like we cooperate in gaining souls for God, by allowing Him to come on in, and being willing instruments. (You must INVITE Him in, as He is a Gentleman of the Highest nature; totally UN-bull-like). We do our best to live a life of love that attracts others. Life provides us with the grain. In our catholic kids’ group “Kids 4 Jesus”, the kids learn a Catholic virtue each month. December’s virtue was patience. It was said to take a “Bethlehem Moment” in difficult situations. We are to stop, think and decided before we act. Mary, as the Mother of God, is our perfect example. Instead of bull-charging, she “pondered these things in her heart”. Ponder things….take things in slowly.


The cow may mosey on into the china shop and clumsily bump into a shelf full of priceless tea cups, but she is not ill-intentioned. She isn’t doing any of it with a sense of destruction, but rather a sense of interest. She notices little things, like the seasoned cracks and faded colors of the older and treasured antique cups. Perhaps these precious bits have been through haggard times? Maybe they weren’t treated with love? She also notices the mid-line of cups. Perhaps they don’t have special color or design on the outside, because they are trying to be more of taste for everyone…the easy practical route. But she may happen upon the fact that these cups, if introduced to the right saucer, show their unique essence and practicality.  She notices the newer “fresh” china with bright, trusting colors and a sense of innocence about them. They might be matched with any plate in the store, just for the sense of adventure, but are in danger of not knowing the right kind of saucer from the wrong kind.  They need gently guidance, that comes from a gentle and slow-chewing mosier; a good listener.

I can see why cows are so revered in some cultures, after contemplating their endearing qualities, as compared to the bull (no offense guys; it isn’t a boy vs. girl thing). But we all know this isn’t about the bovine. This is about a gentleness in evangelization. I am on a quest for it. I will keep in my heart the motto of St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.” This is part of my Lenten quest.  I cannot be anything without Christ, so I will pray that he helps me be a cow, not a bull, in the shop of souls.

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