“All flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field.”
Saturday, about midway through the afternoon, my wife informed me that, given all the preparations she was investing into tomorrow’s big Sunday dinner, she was not cooking that night. I’d just cleaned the grill, so I suggested I could do the job, but she insisted that wasn’t the point. She wanted out.
We’re not blessed with flashy bistros out here on the prairie; it’s tough to get anything more exotic than meat and potatoes, and neither of us wanted to drive for an hour. We settled on a little dive across the river, The Buckaroo, a bar/casino/eatery whose great claim to fame is a wall-sized painting of a cowboy on a bronc, something done by a local farmer a half century ago. Honestly, it is impressive—and we rather like the place.
“Let’s go get a burger and beer,” my wife said, echoing a friend of ours who makes the Buckaroo a habit.
We did. My wife had the Hudson, a hamburger named after the town and heavy-laden, oddly enough, with sautéed jalapenos; I had the Dakota, cajun-spiced, thick with veggies, and named after the state, even though Louisiana is a continent away. Truly post-modern eating. There we sat in a booth with a couple of great burgers and two cold beers in frosty mugs. Things could have been worse all right.
Every time I bite into a Buckaroo burger, every time I take on a ham-and-swiss sandwich or a BLT, every time the plate in front of me holds an Iowa chop (delicious!), a rib-eye sizzling from the grill, or a hunk of perfectly pink prime rib, I’m celebrating the awesome love of God for me, for humankind, a love so unbelievable it sets David’s harpist’s fingers awhirl in Psalm 8.
I admit it. I ate that Dakota burger joyfully and never once considered that its pleasures were mine because some steer along the road to the Buckaroo took a trip to the slaughterhouse.
What on earth is man that you give him and her such rulership? David can’t believe it, and sometimes we forget.
It’s said that the old nomadic Lakota, who ranged over this land where I live, would sometimes cut the heart out of a buffalo they’d just killed and eat it raw as a respectful tribute to the very heart of the mighty beast whose death kept the people healthy and happy. Sounds barbaric, doesn’t it?
But on our way to the Buckaroo, we drove through the western half of a county that leads the state of Iowa in both hog and beef production. We passed hundreds of cattle, and, safely confined, tens of thousands of hogs; we never gave them a thought.
And sometimes I wonder whose practice of dominion is more respectful of the miracle of life. Sometimes I wonder who is more barbaric.
I’m not a vegan, and I never will be. Neither were the Lakota. But this rulership business is every bit the incredible blessing that David says it is. God made grasshoppers too, and killer cicada wasps. But he didn’t give them dominion. He gave that only to us.
Amazing. Just amazing. May our rule be a blessing to us—and to the flocks and herds.