The presentation of the calf in the birthing canal of the heifer was perfect. The delivery was difficult. I could see the heart beating through the calf’s chest cavity. I noticed the calf was not breathing.
I knelt on the ground, reached down, wiped the calf’s nose, clamped its mouth shut, blocked one nostril and puffed into the other nostril, hoping to initiate its breathing. Five seconds later I started to massage its chest and diaphragm, like its mother would do with her tongue.
All the newborn heifer calf had to do was to accept the air that was everywhere. I prayed it would—and miraculously I could see breathing start. The breathing was labored at first, eventually developing into a rhythm, accepting the air and wanting to live.
The calf still had some hurdles to overcome. I continued to massage the calf, rubbing its nose, head, underbelly and legs. It became more and more alert and I whispered “Thank you, God.”
So, as I wiped the dirt, amniotic fluid and other debris off my hands, I thought of the presence of God’s grace. The calf had access to all the air in the world. It just had to start to breathe and want to live. Air is everywhere, a necessity to sustain life.
In my world, God’s grace is everywhere—and God gives me that grace unconditionally. God’s assistance through grace is infinite. The key is that I have to be open to accepting and to using the grace in a way that is good and pleasing to God
Rising off my knees, I began a self-examination. God is always there and God is present in so many ways. God wants me to answer the call to be a disciple. The decision—just like the calf’s decision to breathe the ever-present air of this earth—is mine.
As I walked over to attend to the new mother cow, my head was reeling with images of how God gives me the option to decide how I will be part of God’s world. My lot in life is a series of conscious choices that I make.
Living with God through the Trinity should be a delightful experience. That does not mean everything is easy, goes my way and strokes my ego. Rather, the delight in living means accepting the challenges of life and turning them into the joy of being a disciple of Jesus.
True discipleship of Jesus means serving God by serving others. This means accepting God’s grace offered constantly in life. It means commitment to being open to God’s love in the many forms manifested to me.
Life presents many situations—and it is up to me to turn challenges into opportunities in which I can show God’s ever present love in life.
I hope I can answer the call. Care to join me?
• Odermann lives with his wife Leona on the family farm in Billings County. They are members of the Church of St. Patrick in Dickinson and assist with eucharistic celebrations there as well as at the Churches of St. Bernard (Belfield) and St. Mary (Medora).