Lunky The Ox
Nobody ever said Lunkie was a beautiful ox. Nobody ever said Lunkie was ugly either. He was just…lunkie.
Lunkie was a massive, disproportionate thing. His huge midsection swayed, sagged, and nearly dragged the ground as he walked. His impossibly short, impossibly bow-legged legs struggled to support his weight. He had tender clumpy hooves and a swishy tail that was forever getting stuck in the briars. The most pronounced thing about Lunky, however, were his huge, lunky horns.
On another ox, these horns probably would have been a thing of great pride. Disproportionately huge on poor Lunky, however, they were so heavy that Lunky’s head was almost always lowered under the weight of them. Short sighted at the best of times, the awful huge horns made life very difficult for Lunky. He was forever “lunking” into things, forever getting his head stuck here or there, forever trying to get his great lunky head around and through the mazes of life. He lunked into trees, into rocks, into houses, into other oxen. He lunked into so many things that his massive horns had grown dull, had been scratched and chipped and bumped, and were now really nothing more than two awkward, blunt, massive paddles sticking out of his head.
Lunkie lived on a great wooded spread which belonged to the Ole Cowpoke. Every morning the Cowpoke would wake up his heard with a loud “Whoop-yah!” and the day would begin. Off to the pastures for feeding, to the water-holes for a drink, to the meadows to explore…every day was different, and there was never enough time to do what needed to be done.
But for Lunkie, simply arriving at a destination – wheezing and puffing and hours after the others had already moved on – was accomplishment enough. Lunkie usually felt left out, and sometimes felt jealous of how the others could move so quickly and easily through the woods from one place to another.
For Lunkie, nothing was easy. The grass tickled his soft belly, and the saplings scratched at his sides. He could not see landmarks well, and simply could not fit where most other oxen could go. The worst problem was his huge, lunkie head which was forever bouncing off anything solid. Sometimes Lunkie would try for hours to bash his way through some thicket, only to realize that he would never fit through, and he would have to back-track and go around. Sometimes he would try to follow the fast and sleek oxen and get hopelessly tangled in the underbrush, or caught fast between two trees. When he did this, he had to bellow until the Cowpoke came to pull him out.
While the other oxen were busy ploughing and working for the Cowpoke, Lunkie spent most of his time just trying to get to one place or another. By the time he got there, it was about time to leave for home or for another place, and so he started trying to make his way on back there.
Lunkie spent most of his time doing the one thing that Lunkie did worst of all – and that was trying to get from one place to another through the tangly woods.
One day, Lunkie was especially down. He asked the Ole Cowpoke, “Sir, if you don’t mind my asking, what good am I to you? Why don’t you just sell me down the river, or kill me for meat? Am I completely useless to you?”
The Cowpoke smiled and took Lunkie for a walk. He showed Lunkie the clean, straight path from the pasture to the well, and from the well to the barn. It was the path that Lunkie had beaten. After being lost and confused so long, he finally found the Straight Road. When he finally found it, he paced and paced and paced along that road, just to be sure he would never forget his way again. Lunkie had thought he was only helping himself – but the Cowpoke told Lunkie how many generations of calves and stallions would walk this road. His weakness would be their strength: because he crawled along this stretch, others would gallop in his path.
He was going on and on about the wonderful plans that He had for Lunkie…but Lunkie was not listening anymore. The Cawpoke had said that he was “useful” – and that was all that Lunkie really wanted to hear anyways. He put his head down in the Cowpoke’s lap and sank into a deep, contented sleep.