Not 'some cows' field. Just 'a cow' field.
I didn't die. I wasn't trampled, tossed, pursued, or otherwise harassed.
The placid calf wandered over towards me, docile and just a little inquisitive. We exchanged pleasantries. It returned to its grazing, and I continued my walk.
This was my first venture into a cow field since becoming the target of an angry stampede back in May. I've walked through many, many fields of cows over the years, and done so without incident - but one alarming experience has really put me off. Statistically, I know that the chances of another such experience are very remote - and I think I'm a rational person - but the possibility is there. So when, later in the day, I found myself in a field with some fifty or so cows and calves, I skirted around the edge and jumped over the fence into the lane, just to be on the safe side. Better to be a coward than a victim. Or to put a more positive gloss on it, discretion is the better part of valour.
There's an important lesson here, and it has nothing to do with cows.
It's the reminder of the damaging effect of a negative experience - an experience of fear or danger when the safety and predictability of the world is turned upside down. My own experience earlier this year was mild - I'd scrambled over and through a thorny hedge and landed, scratched and humiliated but intact, on the other side. But it made me realise how even a single bad experience can limit our lives and distort our perspective.
That means I can better understand the anxiety and fear of other people who've had (far more) damaging experiences. I can better understand the unwillingness to become vulnerable in the same way again, to risk a repeat of whatever it is that has taken place. And the area in which this is perhaps most important is that of human relationships, where an imbalance of power has been used to bully, exploit or abuse someone else. It is little wonder for such people that trust can be so fragile, so challenging to rebuild.
Justice, healing, and a safe environment all have their part to play in rebuilding self-worth and self-confidence. Justice which calls us to work for the common good. Healing which invites us to pray, listen, absolve, anoint, affirm, assure - to minister the redeeming love of Christ in whatever way is appropriate. A safe environment as we strive to treat one another with dignity, compassion and respect. As such things are present, the church becomes more true to its calling: to announce and to foreshadow the life of the kingdom of God.