An Unraveling Story

coastalsheep

 

mistyfence

 

barbed18

 

supermoon2

 

januarymoon2

 

The fence was down. 
 
Led by their bellwether bellies, the sheep
had toddled astray. The neighbor farmer’s woods
or coyotes might have got them, or the far road.
 
I remember the night, the moon-colored grass
we waded through to look for them, the oaks
tangled and dark, like starting a story midway.
 
We gazed over seed heads to the barn
toppled in the homestead orchard. Then we saw
the weather of white wool, a cloud in the blue
 
moving without sound as if charmed
by the moon beholding them out of bounds.
Time has not tightened the wire or righted the barn.
 
The unpruned orchard rots in its meadow
and the story unravels, the sunlight creeping back
like a song with nobody left to hear it.
~David Mason from “Mending Time” in The Sound: New and Selected Poems

 

 

applefall

 

appleking

 

kingapple

 

 

 

How often do we, like sheep, wander astray – out of the broken down barn, or through the fallen fence, into the orchards of rotting delights?

And Someone, always Someone, comes looking for us, lost and always hungering and endangered.

We need our Shepherd and we know His voice.  May we be ready to be led home.

 

 

brokenbarn

 

barbedwire

Preparing Through Parable: We Know Your Voice

coastalsheep2

 

scotlandkirkbride

 

 

“The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 
John 10:1-5, 14-16

 

 

sunsetfence

 

 

Gentle Shepherds
of this wayward flock
each of us wanting to go
his or her own way

We know your voice
and listen intently
to follow you
where you know we should be

You lead us
to the green pastures
of The Word
to fill up full.

Alongside the still waters
we quench our thirst,
we are comforted
that you point the way.

If one has gone astray
we know you will come looking
until we are searched out
in our hiding place.

We rejoice together
in celebration
of the lost
now found.

You know your sheep
through a full generation
of us thriving
in your love and care.

We know our shepherds.
We know your voice.
We know you were brought to us
through the loving grace of God Himself.

Amen and Amen again.

 

May my eyes see, my ears hear, my heart understand.  He prepares me with parable.

205513_1998412525418_7201553_n
Pastor Bert and Jane Hitchcock — over 25 years at Wiser Lake Chapel

 

 

fencepostssunset

 

 

 

 

Preparing Through Parable: The One That Wandered Off

irishroad

 

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.
Matthew 18:12-13

 

coastalsheep

 

There is no greater fear than losing hold and sight of your precious child in a crowd; all you can see is a blur of heads and bodies that don’t belong to the one you love.  You have no idea where they are or how to begin to find them.

Desperation grows by the second.
I’ve felt that panic and I’ve seen it in other parents’ eyes.

When we displayed our Haflingers at our regional fair year after year where thousands of people would pass by our stalls daily, we became unofficially designated as a “safe place” to go for lost children who knew their parents would know to look for them near the golden ponies with the snowy white manes and tails.  We saw quite a few tearful reunions over the years and there is nothing like the relief and gratitude when the lost are found.

We are sought out when we wander; we are missed desperately.
We who are lost should seek out safe refuge with those who will protect us until we are found.
When found, we embrace and weep with the One who has risked all to look for us.

May my eyes see, my ears hear, my heart understand.  He prepares me with parable.

 

lochlomond3

 

 

A Wild Ancestry Ignited

snowpup

homershadow

Dog sees white. Arctic
light, the bright buzz in the brain
of pure crystal adrenaline. In a flash
he is out the door and across the street
looking for snowshoe hares, caribou, cats.
His wild ancestry ignited, Dog plunges
his nose into snow up to his eyes. He sees
his dreams. Master yells from the front porch
but Dog can’t hear him. Dog hears nothing
except the roar of the wind across the tundra, the ancient
existential cry of wolves, pure, devastating, hungry.
Time for crunchies. Taking many detours, Dog
returns to the porch. Let master think what he
wants. Freedom comes at a price.
~Paul Piper “Dog and Snow”
corgiwrestling2
corgiwrestling
corgiwrestling4
amberhomer
Last week’s major snow and ice storm is nearly a memory.  On the north side of our buildings there is still a slick skiff of white here and there, but it actually is feeling like spring could erupt any moment.
The corgis are brokenhearted though.  They loved plunging through the snow, burying their faces deep, tussling each other to the ground in a continuing pro-corgi-wrestling tournament, hearing the call of the wild.  They weren’t aware the coyotes were circling out in the field, hungry for a meal — even a meal of corgi meat if need be.
Now that we are back to the usual mud of winter, I’m actually feeling a little nostalgic for the wildness of the white storm and the wildness it brought out in our dogs.  However, I don’t descend from wolves like the corgis.
I’m much more like sheep, seeking out the comfort of the flock when the chill gets to be too much.
coyote2
strolling
snowyhomer2
snowyhomer3

Blooming in your Hand

flock

sheepgrazing

coastalsheep

Imagine a world, this ridiculous
tentative thing blooming
in your hand.  There in your hand, a world
opening up, stretching, after the image
of your hand.  Imagine
a field of sheep grazing, or a single sheep
grazing and wandering in the delight
of grass, of flowers
lifting themselves, after their fashion,
to be flowers…

its prancing taking it far into the field
where, free of the other, it leapt for
no clear reason, and set out walking
through a gathering of flowers, parting
that grip of flowers with its face.
~Scott Cairns from “The Theology of Delight”

And so should we leap,
for no clear reason other than
we are held in His outstretched open hand,
blooming His image,
delighted and delightful.

daisybuttercup

daisyfield

 

Advent Meditation–Great Shepherd

photo by Graham Hobbs in Dorset, U.K.

We’ve never owned sheep in over 25 years of living on the farm, although we have considered it, even bought a book or two on sheep raising, and looked at a few heritage breeds.  We haven’t bought one (yet).  The downside of sheep is they are high-maintenance with a tendency to easily get into trouble , often have difficulty lambing so need to be watched and assisted if necessary, must have regular hoof and health care and most of all,  are defenseless against predators.    In other words, they require stewardship that we couldn’t commit to providing.  Cows, horses, goats, chickens, geese, and ducks seemed like commitment enough.

The sheep herds of Bible times (and even these days in sheep country) have full time shepherds moving with the flocks, using dogs for predator control and flock management.  The shepherd is essential for the survival of the sheep, as well as the well being of the entire flock.

Jesus is called the Great Shepherd not just because of his leadership, but because he is also the Lamb.  He knows the vulnerability of having no means to defend oneself, being completely submissive to a greater will and plan than one’s own, having experienced the pain of sacrifice, and the rescue into the loving arms of the Lord after death.  Knowing our weakness, Jesus carries us, his sheep, gently and lovingly on his shoulders, guiding us to the pathways where we will be safest, searching for us if we are lost, protecting us if we are threatened.

The shepherd, knowing the sheep, promises to be there, no matter what, no matter where. We who have gone astray, every one to his own way, will return to the fold, knowing he calls to us out of love.