The story of the dancing cow
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
From Luke 11
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
Michael Banks saw a red cow walking down the street, and Mary Poppins told Jane and Michael that her mother and the red cow had been great friends.
The red cow had a red calf, and they lived together in a pasture full of yellow flowers. They were very happy with the same life every day, until one night the red cow began to dance and could not stop. She danced all day and all night and couldn't even stop to eat. Her calf was confused and they were both unhappy. After seven days the red cow went to see the king.
The king had been busy making laws, but he stopped to listen to the red cow’s woe. Looking closely, the king saw a star hanging from the red cow’s horn. But all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t get the star off her head.
“You will have to try jumping over the moon,” the king suggested. And that did the trick. High in the sky, the star fell off and the red cow found herself back in the pasture with yellow flowers.
She felt great relief. The red calf began to nurse again, and hour after hour, the red cow chewed her cud. But a few days later the red cow began to feel unhappy This had never happened to her before. She was no longer satisfied with the old way. Something was missing.
She went to talk with Mary Poppins’ mother. They thought about this problem together. Finally, they decided that the red cow missed her star. “You know,” said Mary Poppins’ mother, “millions of stars fall out of the sky every night! But they fall in different places.”
“So I’ll go and look for one,” the red cow said. And “a happy look came into her eyes.”
Michael realized, then, that the red cow was looking for a falling star right there on Cherry Tree Lane.
* * *
Seven days of dancing with a fallen star changed the red cow forever. Three days in the belly of a whale changed Jonah forever. When something like that happens and upsets our apple cart, it really sets us thinking.
Suddenly something is missing. What is God doing? Nothing is the same. We don’t know what to do. We are in a liminal moment. We have reached a turning point.
The red cow went to Mary’s mother. Jonah went to the Lord, more willing than before to do God’s work. Like the red cow, Jonah walked through every neighborhood, calling out the word of the Lord. The people of Nineveh fasted, heard the warning of Jonah, repented and were saved.
What happened with the red cow? The story doesn’t say. But I think she enjoyed her walks, many people learned from her, and at last she found her star. As the book of Jonah ends, God says to Jonah, “Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left – and also many animals?”
Jesus loves the little children of the world, and red cows too.
When we take to the streets, Lord, walking here and there searching for a star, praying for the people, looking up and down for you, please give us living water and food from your table, and a place to sleep so we can begin again tomorrow.
P. L. Travers, Mary Poppins, Chapter 6, 1934