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Out Our Way: Thanks, Mom! - Matthew 23:37


Out our way, a lot of folks raise chickens, and so Jesus’ allusion to a mother hen’s love of other chicks speaks volumes. Up on the Tiger we didn’t have chickens, but we had a lot of mama cows and calves — we saw the same thing. As Mother’s Day comes upon us it is fitting to realize that while Jesus calls God “Abba” — Papa in Aramaic — He also alludes to the maternity instincts of God. God is neither male nor female, and shows the attributes of both. A mother’s love is a great image.I recall three primary examples of it Charlie and I observed up on the Tiger Ridge over the years.

Some of you will recall the incident with the “crying bull.”  We were moving the herd from summer to winter pasture and as mating season was over the bulls had separated from the herd and were gathered in the “good old boys club” about a half mile away.  Charlie was on Jet and was handling the main herd and sent Doc and me to deal with the bulls. At 16 ½ hands and 1,200 pounds, plus having been raised on a cattle ranch in the Bear Paw Mountains, Doc was not intimidated by the six bulls we needed to move. Besides, now that they were not competing for heifers, they were not overly aggressive.

But as we rode down the rail we came across some cow’s beached bones and one bull stopped and began to bawl.  Charlie came by and suggested the bones were those of his mother. As big and tough as that Charolais bull was, he was still mama’s baby. No one out grows a mother’s love — nor vice versa.

Another incident that was pretty common was to find a lone cow with four to six calves around her. Seems a mom’s love is not limited. While several cows wandered down to the water hole, one stayed behind to “babysit” and care for the calves.

Looking at the cow and those various calves, I could not tell you which was hers and which belonged to others for she watched over them all. I don’t care for angry bulls, but I would much rather face a bull on the fight than a mama cow protecting a calf … even if it wasn’t “hers.”

The last incident was not as common, but it was frequent enough.  Calves, like most young critters, are curious and not overly wise in the ways of the world. Now, granted, there haven’t been any grizzlies in the Bear Paws for over 100 years, nor wolf packs, but coyotes are still pretty common, and we still hear and sometimes see mountain lions on the prowl. So when checking over the herd or moving them to better grazing and water — Psalm 23 — Charlie and I would always take time to ride through the heavy thorn thickets and brush in the arroyos. More than once we came across some curious youngster that had wandered off and gotten lost.

That is why Charlie told me to wear my heavy leather chaps even when it was 110 in the shade. Those thorn thickets can be nasty!

But we would haze “Buster” out onto the open prairie and then he would begin bawling for his mama. As we pushed the calf towards the main herd — sometimes ½ mile from where we found the little goof — we would hear mama bellowing out for her baby, and when they got within hearing range of each other the individual bellowing became a duet. You don’t have to understand “cow” to know it was glorious. A mom’s love is music greater than even Mozart or Handel could compose.

I am grateful for the seminaries I attended and all the theology I was taught by gifted professors as I studied Greek, Hebrew, biblical history, theology and such, but I am equally grateful for the “professors” like Doc and Charlie and the spiritual and theological lessons learned on the Tiger Ridge at “the Montana School of Horse Sense Theology.” If a hen or a cow can: 1) show me love that cannot be outgrown or worn out, 2) show me a love that has no limits and never ends, 3) and show me a love that goes beyond words and sound to the depths of the soul … well, imagine what love I can learn from my own mom ….and thus from God.

It has been many years since I could send flowers or a card to my mom as she died when I was in high school, but I can never forget nor cease to honor her. What a marvelous teacher God has sent us in our mom. Fitting that Mom’s day comes on the Lord’s Day, don’t you think?


Brother John Bruington


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