Silence wrapped in some more silence with a side of quiet sitting in a puddle of stillness.
My first time at school seemed to be a lot of this … on repeat. Going to school to become a spiritual director seemed more like getting the corner market on being still…. and then stiller still. Everyone seemed so good at it. God seemed “dusty” here. Multiple times in the quiet, when you aren’t supposed to have any thoughts, I would beg Him,” Are you here?”
Everyone knew how to do this…. but me.
Everyone knew the songs… but me.
Everyone wears really sensible shoes… but me.
Everyone was on their 2nd, 3rd or even 5th career… but me.
Everyone either was in Princeton Seminary or had a ministry degree… but me.
And I was okay with that… but I was , and still am months later, acutely aware of our differences.
It’s sort of like a game of constant catch up… which is probably just what my problem solving brain needs….
Because sometimes the silence is a lot.
Because its not just a moment here or there….
It is silence wrapped in hush with a side of quiet tied up with no thoughts.
and if you peek your eyes open… you would see my eyes peeking too.
Our instructor sat down next to me during lunch, “How is your stay going?”
I think I pled the fifth. I mean, silence is what they are all about… so it seemed appropriate.
I wanted more. I wanted to be taught how to help… to serve this ever growing Sunday Dinner community.
Pack me with some tools to take back.
I had a dump truck full of silence.
But yet in the chapel of my car on the long drive home… I felt filled.
And in all those silent spaces noise and life rushed in as I walked back through the door into our busy family.
In the morning following, I sit and worship… in the loud noise of how Him and I meet each day. Him and I know each other well here. I can here Him well through the noise.
“Where is this in Your Word? Where is this contemplative… this centering… this quiet space.? Where?!! They say this is the ancient way. .. so help me see…”
And with my eyes open, the letters before me blurred and the words with them…. space between each letter and word illuminated, a glowing aura orbiting … the margin brightened…. space between each page seemed to take on a life of it’s own.
“There. All that I am saying which is bigger than the confinement of your words and your letters. There. I have language that is beyond what your eyes can see and your ears can hear. Beyond what you can develop language for. Your letters alone limit what can be written. Each space around each letter is a pause before the next sound… I am in that. Even the seconds , days, years and books of the Bible have space between… which is contemplative. The entire Book is full of the space between~ the quiet space. The end of every psalm has a quiet moment where I respond … feel it. This depth and width and height is for the seerers. Even in what seems quiet I am still conveying so much. The words are so much easier to grasp, at first… but if you can contemplate the space between there is much to be learned… much to be meditated upon.”
He is amazing.
The light changing in the bubbles bring tears to my eyes. The colors refract differently inside of it and at once I get to see my favorite color palette of opalescent iridescent pinks and teals. I am so thankful to clean this milk machine bucket…to scrub it like new. Years of milking by hand have served it’s purpose. I have raised up this herd and there are so many to milk.
Doing any of this makes “no sense”…. but at the same time it makes perfect sense.
Time and time again He stands next to me and without judgement says,”You don’t have to do any of this… this is all for you… but if you don’t want this… you don’t have to continue.” I have lifted my head off of rain soaked sheep caked in mud and worse and set my jaw, “No. I am still in… I still want this.” As I tried again to milk a sheep whose triplets have chewed her up and is forced to wean. With the back of my hand I smear my bangs out of my eyes and lie to myself that it was just rainwater that wiped over my forehead. I try again… “step 1 wipe everything off…again…..”
“You don’t have to do this,” He says standing next to me as I find a rejected bleeding and blue three pound lamb off in the pasture. “I am still in… just help me.” Within minutes He sends the biggest sheep dairys in the country with encouragement and wisdom. Now, lil’davey run freely through Sunday Dinner from person to person hoping for a good scratch.
And I don’t need these sheep… I don’t need this milk… but at the same time… We do need it…. I need this.
I need the being a shepherd and walking with a Shepherd.
I need the walking on water as all the weaned lambs scream and the rain pours and the shit is knee deep and the milking must be done or something worse could happen but not one animal will cooperate and milking took hours and my husband is in the hospital …. and He takes my hand and tells me to “see none of it… but see All of It.” I step out and He is right… we don’t need to see through our minds… See through Him.
For my birthday I get a milking machine… similar to the one my grandfather used on his farm years ago.
I get to do this. It’s not your dream… but it is mine… and I get to do this.
I get to care for these animals.
I get to wipe off these healthy lambs as they make their way here.
I get to choose to sell them to a solar panel farm to walk out their days happily mowing.
I get to learn how my grandfather and his father milked and still made church on a Sunday morning.
I get to lug this huge milk machine….HUGE I tell ya!
I get to watch as this is my children’s normal as they run around playing catch with lil’davey.
I get to do it all with Him. I get to hear Him speak about things that might not matter one fleck to anyone but me… but He speaks because that is what we do. He likes Shepherding I know this…. I get to know this first hand.
I get to see how a Shepherd can see none of it… but see All of It.
(warning: animal abuse mentioned)
As I watched from way across the field I witnessed this grown man hold his dog still as he punched him over and over. The image becoming blurry until the tears overflowed. My eyesight cleared in time to see him drag the dog home.
I am such a baby.
Once I could have handled this.
Years ago, I remember watching from a short distance, people attempting to herd a flock of sheep onto a trailer. They clearly didn’t know what they were doing. I am not sure what they were thinking ,as a bucket with some feed rattling around would be enough for most sheep to follow you…. but I watched as they roped one. I knew that would never work. Sheep have an “oppositional reflex” which makes them pull back if you pull forward. So they yanked with their backs turned to the sheep, the rope over their shoulder…. and the sheep just laid down. I remember being paralyzed as I watched her march back the length of the rope and closed fist punched that sheep in the face. I mean she just punched it full force over and over again all the while pulling the rope tighter… until it just lay there. She was strong and I knew it. This was years ago when times like this would make me feel enclosed in glass…. like an aquarium. I stood atop the little hill in my aquarium as I held my pregnant belly and watched this sheep just lay still… it was surely dead. They got the last sheep onto the trailer … no one flinched at her behavior. They did not say a word as she walked over to it and kicked it a few times in the ribs… The other people just locked the trailer…. as if nothing had happened…..as if nothing was still happening.
But then again… I wasn’t doing anything either. Barely able to feel anything in my little glass box.
She left and I broke loose enough that I found myself knelt down next to the sheep, “come on buddy..” I couldn’t feel any breath. His eyes were open and dull.
“come on buddy, ” silently praying over this unconscious or dead sheep as I looked over my shoulder to see her returning.
Without a word to me she kicked him again in the ribs as she walked past. I grabbed his face, “come! on!”
He lept up.
I helped him towards the trailer. The other man opened the ramp to let him on.
No one had stopped her… perhaps no one knew her well enough… or perhaps they all knew her too well.
She was tough.
I used to think I was tough. I had watched and not a tear was shed.
Now I can’t even see this stranger’s dog without crying.
I guess I never was tough. I was paralyzed. I was blind. I was silenced. I was alone.
So now…. Now I can feel my limbs go cold as fight or flight kicks in. I can feel the hot tears. I remember watching. I remember feeling it. I see my paint stained fingers shake as I type this memory today.
…. isn’t “feeling” tougher than being immune to abuse?
Isn’t it more cowardice to say nothing when abusers abuse?
Isn’t it stronger… tougher…. more evolved… to say, “Stop”?
Well I will not side with abusers…. and I haven’t for some time.
It’s the “rest assured” that made me take pause and ponder before the next sip of tea. This man who was paralyzed in life could have brought an animal to the temple and been cleared of any sin. Clearly he had friends who would help him with that… he had friends who would cart him around on a gurney… those are good friends.
No, he did not believe he was forgiven. He was stuck in life because he could not move forward….paralyzed. In his mind there was no sacrifice that would suffice.
Jesus didn’t say, “I forgive you.”
He said, “your sins are forgiven.”
This guy needed to know he truly was forgiven… He need not be stuck any longer.
He could move forward.
He didn’t need to be paralyzed in that same place.
He was not the same person.
No longer paralyzed by his dis-ease… he could move.
One lamb was enough for this guy.
One Lamb is enough for you.
Look at the paralyzed places in your life… You don’t need more than one Lamb.
He did it. This weekend is a celebration of His success and your freedom.
That dis-ease does not need to stop you anymore.
Believe in the ability He gave you to move forward.
“Your sins are forgiven.”
At the start of this milking season I thought little Rose was not going to see next year here on the farm. Not because she was sickly but because she was not a big producer. I would bring her little pittance of milk in , comparing it to the others and remark, “I guess we will have to sell the little one… no emotion, she will go… but she is so sweet and so proud to get up in the milking stand.” My HusBen would shrug and tell me I could keep her or sell her it made no difference to him…. so of course I would continue to convince him ,”You should see her…she has such heart. She jumps up on the door to peer in and watches the other girls get up on the milking stand and now she is just so thrilled and proud to be part of that crew that she acts like an old pro. She gives her all…you should see her.” My tall Midwestern Swedish HusBen would feign interest and tell me to “keep her then” as he has taken to slapping a Pennsylvania Dutch “then” at the end of his sentences.
Now, as we wind down this years milking season I have decided to keep her. I did the math and in comparison to the older girls she could not compete…. but when I flipped a few pages back and compared their rookie years to Rose’s… she gets to stay! She held her own and in some ways is far better. She is sweet , a good mother and above all she is a proud well mannered milker. I hope she can teach next years rookies a thing or two.
I am glad He compares us to sheep. Sheep seem to get better the more time you give them.
So with all that said…
I shall keep her then.
So here is the question…
Is everyone doing the best they can?
Do you believe that every person you meet is doing the best they can and why?
Think about it…
…. the grocery store clerk?
… the homeless at the bus stop?
… your spouse?
… your children?
… that Danish man that spat off the bridge at the Syrian refugees?
… your pastor?
… your political leader?
… the person you least enjoy?
You don’t need to answer for each of those scenarios…. just in general…
Are people doing the best they can and why?
You show up with your little bit.
You could be smaller than everyone else and your entry could be barely noticed.
Beside you, on both sides, could be giants.
But with a little bit He can do a whole lot.
Your mistakes from last time are making you better this time.
As you enter in… remember that at least you are entering…some never try.
As you enter in… remember by your example others will follow … some will try because of you.
With your little bit…. and His big bit… you can win the whole thing.
But it is about the showing up.
Showing up to the daily practice.
Showing up to the learning.
Showing up to the evolution.
Showing up with your little bit.
~It’s been a great show season for the girls. Yen finished the season with winning Grand Champion for the Series. Mer , started later, but had a tremendous finish with the miniature horse. We are so happy. They worked all summer and quickly flew through the ranks. ~