August 12, 2013

sheep


At the beginning of this year, I had the privilege of working at a small sheep farm near the ranch.  A friend of mine raises these darling creatures and makes her living on their wool (making yarn and her own knitted/crocheted creations), and needed some help cleaning out the barns in preparation for summer, and she came to me for help.  It was a big job, since such a deep cleaning is only undertaken twice a year, but of course, I couldn't resist, so I jumped at the opportunity.  I love sheep - always have.  For whatever reason, I always find it soothing to spend time working with and around them.  They're quiet creatures and they like to be in the quiet, too - maybe that's why.  Or maybe it's the sweet scent of the lanolin in the wool that always reminds me of summer.  Either way, I find sheep to be darling creatures, no matter their cognitive abilities...

Anyway, all that uninterrupted quiet time shoveling and raking and tossing hay bales gave me time to think, and I recently found the notebook in which I jotted these things down.  We can learn much from these critters, if you consider it, and quite a few connections about my own faith popped out to me as I worked, one in particular that might seem obvious, but that I hadn't even thought of, despite the homilies I've listened to on the topic.  Sheep are almost totally defenseless in the wild, apart from their ability to kick and the horns of the rams…  They don't have sharp teeth.  They don't have a shell, claws, spray, a menacing voice, anything that could potentially save them from a predator.  From what I've noticed, they don't run very fast either because they have little strength and less stamina and next to no sense of direction.  Even though they startle easily, they can't hide.  The only trick they know is to flock.

Sheep rely completely on the protection provided them by their shepherd and his working dogs.  Sounds kind of familiar, eh?

Behold, this is the reason we are given priests, deacons, bishops, and, of course, the Pope.  Because, in this chaotic world we live in, we are defenseless on our own.  We just can't survive, plain and simple.  There are all sorts of things weighing us down and trying to suck us in, and the Church has provided for us a strong backbone - for our own protection.  Because, as we all know, our "adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."  (1 Peter 5:8)

The one thing that has stuck with me from the various homilies on the topic of sheep and the 23rd Psalm has been this:  in ancient Israel (or maybe they still do, I don't know), shepherds would spend hours upon hours soothing and talking to the new lambs as they came, until they recognized his voice and would come to him when he spoke.  They would graze their lambs together in one huge flock, and at the end of the day, they would position themselves at opposite ends of the pasture and start talking.  The sheep would pick out the voice of their own shepherd from the others, gather around him, and then would go their separate ways.

The point is, in life, there are a billion voices and distractions struggling for our attention, and we have to know the voice of our shepherd in order to stay with the flock.

Have a great day, all.  Make it a great day.

10 comments :

  1. Great reflections, Iris! God bless!

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  2. Replies
    1. I doooooo... So much. They serve as a constant reminder to us, too, so it's a win win. ;)

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  3. At last, sheep and Papa Francisco are mentioned in the same post! You just made my day. :)

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    Replies
    1. Heheh it only makes sense. ;) Awwww, I'm glad. <3

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  4. TheChronicled I must confess I like the comparison, it drives home the point. Good piece.

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  5. What a great experience. We can learn so much from God's creation, in a variety of ways. Great thoughts! :D

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