You may remember a mention I made over a year ago about bottlefeeding a newborn calf who had lost his mother. During my visits to Oklahoma over the past year, I watched him grow from a wobbling baby into a solid young bull. He went from tugging on the bottle to shoving you out of the way while you tried to pour feed into his trough. As he grew, he became more standoffish; glowering from his corral like a sullen teenager.

Two weeks ago he was “put up”, which is to say slaughtered and butchered. And last week we had him for dinner.

After eating the same animal you helped raise it leaves you with a feeling of ambivalence. I understand now why primitive people honored the animals they hunted. They lived with an intimate connection to the natural world.

When I was a vegetarian, I thought I could buy my way out of the world’s cruelty. If I could just stop eating meat, I would somehow store up some credit with the universe. Nevermind that I wore leather shoes. This moral fiction provided a way for me to avoid the pain of reality; that I am a fleeting bloom of life like everything else in this bloody world.

Gospel of Thomas, saying number 60: “They saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb going into Judaea. He said to his disciples: Why does he carry the lamb? They said to him: That he may kill it and eat it. He said to them: So long as it is alive he will not eat it, but if he kill it and it become a corpse. They said: Otherwise he will not be able to do it. He said to them: You also, seek for yourselves a place within for rest, lest you become a corpse and be eaten.”

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