The bulls become so love-smitten that any large object in someone's backyard seems to become a competitor.
While the younger bulls --who have no hope of any real success with the cows --parry, tilt and spar with each other, the older bulls have serious work to do.
Sometimes a bull will bring his harem of forty to fifty cows through our yard and watch them possessively while they graze on dried grasses and shrubs.
One fall I watched out the window at a bull in our neighbor's backyard. He narrowed his eyes and lowered his antlers at a swing set, swaying gently in the autumn breeze. Pawing the ground, the bull snorted, then charged the swing.
Then something terrible happened. The poor dumb animal got his huge rack of antlers tangled in the chains of the swing. I could see the white around each iris as his eye's grew wide in panic. He bucked and pulled frantically. He lost his balance and crashed onto his side. Then his antlers slid free and he climbed back onto his feet. Shaking his big, furry neck --and still eying the swingset with suspicion -- he trotted off to be nearer his cows.
As he cantered away I imagined the bull was thinking something like this: "Man, that was one big, dangerous dude! I think I'll take my cows and skedaddle to a safer pasture."
That poor, dumb animal almost got himself killed because he didn't recognize that the swingset wasn't his real enemy. Where was the real enemy? Lurking somewhere nearby. . . behind a neighbor's garage, or up the hill fifty or sixty yards, eying the heard of cows with greedy eyes.
That's who the feckless bull elk should have been looking out for.
Not a swingset!
Poor, dumb beast. How could he be so stupid. Can't he see that a swingset doesn't look remotely like another bull elk?
But, you know? I'm just as dumb as a bull elk at times. I get angry or annoyed at people or situations, sometimes thinking that they are my enemy:
- that blasted politician who thinks abortion is justified,
- that neighbor who uses the Lord's name in vain every chance he gets,
- the school board that voted a god-denying, history-re-written textbook into the school district for the proper education of our naive youth.
If only I have eyes to see reality, I'll recognize that these people (for whom Christ died) are not my enemy. The real enemy is lurking around my neighbor's garage, or fifty or sixty yards uphill, watching our souls with greedy eyes.
God grant me discernment. God grant me love.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12