Monday, June 23, 2003

Believe it or not - and my husband didn't when I first told him - we went to the zoo again today. Not Louisville, of course, but here in "FootWayne." In case you've not been following this saga, and just so you don't think I'm completely nuts, I bought a family pass which brings us free admission for the rest of the year, which means that going to the zoo, about a 12 minute drive from my house, is just like going to the park, just with sea lions and pigs.

And nothing tires a two-year old fellow out like racing around zoo grounds in 80-degree weather for an hour or so.

Not that I mind. I'd rather go to the zoo than stand at nervous, constant attention by a slide, myself.

Today, we got there as the sea lions (or seals. I'm not sure which. There's a difference right? You can tell the educational placards have a big impact on me) were being fed their buckets of fish, which was fun, and I saw a peahen surrounded by her little brood of ..what...peachicks?...all with the peacock looking over them from his perch up in a tree.

The priest let his eyes wander towards the birds. They had reached the middle of the lawn. The cock stopped suddently and curving his nect=k backwards, he raised his tail and spread it with a shimmering timbrous noise. Tiers of small pregnant suns floated in a green-gold haze over his head. The priest stood transfixed, his jaw slack. Mrs. McIntyre wonderred where she had ever seen such an idiotic old man. "Christ will come like that!" he said ina loud gay voice and wiped his hand over his mouth and stood there, gaping.

Mrs. McIntyr'es face assumed a set puritanical expression and she reddened. Christ in the conversation embarrassed her the way sex had her mother. "It is not my responsibility that Mr. Guizac has nowhere to go," she said. "I don't find myself responsible for all the extra people in the world."

The old man didn't seem to hear her. His attention was fixed on the cock who was taking minute steps backward, his head against the spread tail. "The Transfiguration," he murmured.

She had no idea what he was talking about. "Mr Guizac didn't have to come here in the first place," she said, giving him a hard look.

The cock lowered his tail and began to pick grass.

"He didn't have to come in the first place," she repeated, emphasizing each word.

The old man smiled absently. "He came to redeem us," he said and blandly reached for her hand and shook it and said he must go. ("The Displaced Person" by Flannery O'Connor)

So...we enjoyed the seals, Joseph enjoyed feeding the ducks while I gave geese the evil eye , and the big attraction of the day was the Indiana farm yard, where Joseph patted a horse, goats, and saw pigs, sheep, cows, a huge turkey, and had a conversation with a rooster in which he would yell, "Cock-a-doo-ey!" and the bird would actually respond.

I love watching animals for the same reason I love watching very little children. They are so completely themselves. There is no pretense, no second-guessing, no self-doubt, no mission statements, no policy papers, no committee meetings, no therapy. They just are who they in great purity and honesty.

Which is what God calls all of us, to be, I think, and the reason why faith is so important. When God is the only One to whom we answer, and we live knowing that God is our only judge and our most faithful friend, we can begin to strip away all that inexplicably attaches to us as we grow, and we can look to God as an excited, open-hearted child does, and we can bask in his love, like the sleek sea lion, slicing through the water as if weightless, needing to be no one and nothing but himself.