Goat story

via the magnificent Public Broadcasting System

It’s raining here.

Gobs of rain.

Rain has cancelled my leaping from an airplane, this morning’s run, a trip to the farmers’ market, an adventure in Kansas City, and any desire I had to get out of my toasty lined yoga tights…to go to yoga. On top of the wet-blanket effect of the rain, I and a $0.99 scrubby liberated my nose ring from my nose the other morning just hours before my fruity yogurt landed face down on the carpet at work. Not quite a tragedy, but dang it. Et tu yogurt?

I wanted to feel bad and whine. But each time I began to revel in the injustice of it all, I remembered how fortunate of a fool I am to have family, friends, running water, and options like eating…jumping out of airplanes, and taking showers in SAFETY (minus the ad hoc nose ring extraction).

Crazy, good, living with the requisite bumps in the road and a few legitimately soul-crushing tragedies – or “goat stories” as Richard Rohr translates the Greek etymology – from which I learned to bounce and ask for help.

Goat stories. Tragedies. The rising and falling and falling deeper and rising – leaping – and then again of Odysseus, Forrest Gump, Oskar Schindler, and Orwellian headlines are stories of life without the bippity-boppity-boo of fairy godmothers or magic lamps to save us. Just an oar, a call to run, to work, and to divine truth in the chaos of our Greek chorus lives. These stories – the epic tragedies we are lucky to read – remind us of our messiness of living and the power of perseverance to pull us through.

We would do well to read them again…before we live them out in ignorance.

Character is often born in the fierce grave of disappointment rather than the fluffy pillows of ease. Our hope and purposes emerge as the thin skin of immaturity is peeled away giving light to seeds of compassion in our weary souls. To not have struggle, to know only YES and never No causes us to be weak, ego-centric, lacking compassion, and easily commoditizing other humans for our temporal wants.

Our greatest tragedies reveal how foolish – goatly – we are. As we live out the stories, later tragedies reveal how easily we return from great heights of growth and discovery to the shallows where predators delight in our fat and happy distracted selves.

Every goat has a story. Old goats, young goats, the tree-climbing goats of Morocco, and the organic farm happy goats milked for feta-making have their story. So do we.

This real-life of falling and getting back up; of punch-drunk wayfinding are our stories and – if we pay attention – can be our salvation. They reveal we are not as smart or strong or wily as we think we are, how life is better in good company and with shepherds nearby, and how adapting to the environment can mean the difference of having our arses chewed by a coyote and scrambling – heart pumping – up rocky cliffs on the barest of margins.

We may not be rock stars (see what I did there?), but we do have stories worth living; tragedies worth enduring, and the view from great heights to endeavor. And it’s not about just us – keeping our tails from the teeth of the hungry hounds of hell.

It’s about remembering our Krakkens and storms, the lotus eaters, the hungry refugees with no room in the inn so we offer shelter in the crash landing of life, and to grow stronger with the nimble feet we’ve been given.

Most of us will never win the presidency or Olympic gold or even the contract to save the company, but we each have stories worth living and learning from. We have friends, neighbors, and strangers nearby whose stories are worth hearing and we are wise to be listening to as other goats speak their truths.

Onward goats and other creatures of derring do.


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