When my friend Janell told me about a cow escaping a slaughterhouse in NYC two days ago, the idea was at first hilarious (the image of this cow running wild through Manhattan in my head), but then afterwards I felt strangely inspired.
This guy made it out. And he was scheduled to be slaughtered THE NEXT DAY.
I became intrigued with the story. Would the cow be caught? Shot? Sent back to the slaughterhouse? Be hit by a car? Be rescued?
Maybe all of this is striking me harder because Sherei and I have been going meatless for January. After talking with our associate pastors who are vegetarian, and hearing them expose the truth of the meat industry they discovered through watching documentaries like "Forks Over Knives" on Netflix, this story is sounding more and more like a bovine miracle.
Watch the video below to see what Freddie had to look forward to if he didn't escape. Warning: this video is slightly graphic, but not nearly as bad as many others.
If I was Freddie and had any inkling as to what was coming for me. If I heard the bleating echo through the halls of the slaughterhouse, or became curious about why my living space was so small - I'd make a run for it too.
I wonder if there was an inner longing for another land in Freddie? If he believed deep inside somewhere that there were rolling hills for him to explore with fresh grass for him to eat, a cool breeze in the air, and a family for him to care for?
See I bet Freddie was a conspiracy theorist. All his friends thought he was crazy. He was convinced the life they were all living was a sham, that there was a greater existence outside those walls that they were made for. One with family. Fulfilling food. Frolicking fun. Freedom. But they rolled their big eyes whenever he brought this fantasy up, and told him to get with the program. Just keep his head down, and stick with business as usual. If he challenged the status quo...there'd be consequences.
I wonder what the cattle-lyst for his escape was? We're not told how Freddie made it out, but my guess is he saw one too many friends disappear, ate one too many bleak dry grass and cereal dinners, saw the sun peak through a high above window - just out of reach of feelings its warm rays on his cold, damp, dirty skin - one too many times, and decided to make a run for it.
Watch the video above again, and note how the cow responds to his new found freedom. He is running, half free and half frantic. He is both out of harms way, and yet not safe yet. Not fully free yet. Many have made it as far as he has, and been shot down, or dragged back into the hell they came from. He is out of the Egyptian bondage, but not to the promised land quite yet. And Isn't that where so many of us live? Delivered but not free.
I was showering this morning and noticed a sticker on one of Sherei's shampoo bottles: "50% More FREE." I laughed and thought that was the oddest thing. How can something be MORE free? What a stupid marketing technique. If it is free, it doesn't cost anything. It is either free, or it is not. Don't worry, I get what they're trying to say, but come on. Something can't increase its freeness! And then I thought of this message by Christine Caine, and how I have lived so much much of my life as a believer set free by the cross, yet not living in the full freedom of a Spirit-led life. I am receiving the living water, but in cracked cisterns that leak and occasionally run dry. Listen to Christine Caine speak to this idea at this year's Passion just a few weeks ago:
My favorite part of this story is the ending: our cow is rescued.
This cow that was once just another number, another consumer product to be mindlessly eaten by the masses (did you know there are 100+ different cows in a single McDonalds hamburger?). But this wasn't our cow's story anymore. He was picked up by an animal sanctuary from a distant land, across the great divide (New Jersey...). He now will live 100% free. Adopted by these caring beings of a higher power, yet not of the dark powers that ran the wretched slaughterhouse. He was given a name, a place and a purpose. His name was to be Freddy, named after the lead singer of Queen. Now he is free to roam, eat fresh grass, play with friends, and sing "we are the champions my friends" indignantly looking toward the slaughterhouse he was raised in.
He is an animal kingdom example of the kingdom of heaven; of the human soul escaping to freedom. A dairy good...I mean very good picture of what it looks like for us to wake up and realize we're in a cage keeping us from the real life, mindlessly moving forward on a conveyer belt toward death.
Freddie was validated in his belief of a greater life. And what a peace he must live in. How appreciative he is of the life he now lives. His stories must make the other cattle of the sanctuary tremble. But his mind must wander to the other nameless ones he left in the slaughterhouse.
So what is Freddie's next move? My guess is to set the captives free.
Check out the song "Terminal" by Jon Foreman and let's take his advice to "not let your soul die before you body does."
Check out the place where Freddie gets to live now...paradise.
See the full video below. Long live Freddie, who inspired both man and beast.