Space Butting


I love the way animal behavior reveals God’s principles—like the bad manners of bearded, white, mountain goats. 

Mountain goats are not especially swift, so they raise their families in near-vertical terrain to escape bears and wolves. A goat’s hooves are splayed and each half moves independently, suctioning against rocks with a hard outer edge and a soft, concave inner pad. Goats can leap 12 feet horizontally to mount precarious ledges. They clomp across slippery walls of stone with a fearlessness that world-class rock-climbers envy.

In 1778, when Captain James Cook explored Southeast Alaska, Tlingit Native traders bartered with luxuriant, snow-white robes that the English mariners had never seen. These hides had double-coats of thick fur under heavy guard hairs that resembled a woman’s white locks. Cook mistakenly believed that they were from white bears. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that mountain goats were classified as indigenous to Alaska and studied as a species.

Nanny and billy goats are notoriously intolerant with members of their own family. A nanny’s errant head-butt can provoke indignant circling and posturing within the band—before an all-out goring melee. During family feuds, a yearling is often knocked off a cliff by a misdirected shove. A keen-eyed bald eagle can snatch a helpless kid virtually unnoticed as the parents duel over personal space. Biologists who study mountain goat families say that they average three or four quarrels per goat, per hour. A mountain goat lives up to 15 years—you do the math…

As we climb the rough terrain of life with our own band of loved ones, inevitably they will horn into our personal space. They may need advice or approval (or a piggyback ride), but it’s worth every moment that we devote to these precious “trespassers.” By affirming that we care enough to sacrifice our space, we build trust and can lead them to our Savior and Rock.

Psalms 94:22

But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God, the rock in whom I take refuge.

One thought on “Space Butting

  1. I love this post. 🙂 Americans are notorious for not wanting to be bothered with their own family if it puts them out or makes them uncomfortable. Hence all the abortions and “retirement homes” full of the aging. I wish they were seen as the treasures they truly are.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s