Cattle Grazing

Ithaca is known, above all, for its goats and sheep, and is said in the Odyssey to be unsuitable for horses because it is a rugged island. Here, however, we see a cow that is grazing in an open field next to a stone wall, being observed by the figure of a girl. On the left side of the wall is a tree, and there may be another tree behind that, on the boundary between two fields. It was cattle that God created in chapter one of the Book of Genesis, together with creeping things and wild animals, on day six, before he created man in his own image, so I take this stone to refer to the story of creation, since most of the animals I have found on the beaches of Ithaca have been cattle and creepy-crawlies.


Meanwhile, in language, there is a strange correlation between “fear” and “heart” and indeed, if we breathe in a little too deeply, it is often fear that we feel deep in our hearts. “Fear” can turn to “rage” by a step in the alphabet (f-g), and “rage” can turn into “anger” (addition of n). This can easily lead us to nurture “hatred” in our “heart” (addition of d), but our hearts were meant for love – love of God and love of our neighbour. Hate is something that is associated with the past – “hated” gives “death”, just as “lived” gives “devil”. If we want to have a future, we must lay aside our hate and embrace the other. We will cultivate fear of God. This “fear” is “safe” (r-s) because it teaches us to be humble in God’s presence, not to want to place ourselves on a level with him. And then we may find that “fear”, this kind of fear, gives way to “grace”, whereby we work in conjunction with God and allow his love to pass through us.

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