Morning prayers with Molly

Sarah Hooley lives and works on her family’s century farm in Southern Idaho and attends Filer Mennonite Church. In addition to farming she manages her on-farm tiny guest house, Dot Cottage. Depending on the season she can be found in the garden, making cheese or by a sunny window with a pen in her hand. Sarah’s reflection was submitted by the Mennonite Spiritual Directors Network.

Under a blue vaulted ceiling stretching to infinity, I crouch while the heartbeat-like rhythm of milk hitting pail rings through quiet spaces, calling the congregants to prayer.

Molly the milk cow stands patiently as Mom and I lean into the places of trust, gently coaxing frothy milk from her generous udder. I silently repeat segments of songs, the beat following the motion of my hands. “So let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O God …” And soon after, “My Shepherd will supply my need … no more a stranger, nor a guest, but like a child at home.” Occasionally my hands brush Mom’s, and I find solidarity and accountability in her presence — in knowing her daily prayer: “… hallowed be your name, your kingdom come … give us this day our daily bread …”

Others answer the call to stillness too. Archie the cow dog lies quietly nearby while Nellie cat cuddles fondly between his paws. Stately Frederick, the silver tabby, sits tall on the brow of the pasture hill. Squirrels pause on their route from walnut tree to haystack cache, quivering bodies momentarily still. Peacocks preen meditatively in the morning sunlight, and the magpie shouts his raucous praises to the heavens.

We thank Molly with apples and a hearty breakfast, leaving a trail of contentment in our wake.  Calmed by the quiet communion, we carry abundance to the house. What began as yet another chore, borne from the desire of being close to our food source, soon became a daily opportunity to pause in the presence of our Great Provider. How do these things begin? I only remember coming to the awareness of what already was.

Morning prayers change with the seasons. Molly moves from pasture to barn. We go from smelling dew-wet grass to breathing in August’s harvest from the golden straw around our feet. Sometimes prayers come as easily as breath; other times restless hooves and busy schedules make stillness illusive. Regardless of how today’s prayers go, tomorrow we will try again as we kneel beside Molly in the presence of the Cosmic Christ.