Friday, 12 December 2014

Writer's Group Dec 2014 by Susan L.

Do You See What I See?

    I have some time to talk now. Most of the flock is settled in for the night and are quietly chewing their cud. You hear the ewes muttering to their babes? It’s a peaceful sound; a love sound reserved for their lambs that after all these years it still brings a smile to my face. Come; let’s sit by the fire so I can enjoy a moment of warmth before I need to check the sheep again.
  I’m not sure how much longer I can be a shepherd. Ha! The long years in all weather has me looking like an old, hairy, wineskin don’t you think? My bones and joints ache in the night from the long day’s search for better pasture. The ground seems to be getting harder.
  It’s not that there’s an alternative; my father and my father’s father before him were masters of the sheep. They died doing what they loved, free and in the open. I suppose that’s how I’ll end up. Huts are for women and little ones.
  Wool, milk and meat are all I know. I’m proud that the knowledge of generations means my breeding stock is sought after for improving other flocks.  In fact, they are descended from Jacob's sheep. But I have no idea what will become of them when I die. I have no son to inherit my flock and it’s too late now to start one. Maybe I should have thought of that sooner but life in the hills is busy and well, women are kind of scarce.
    Maybe it won’t matter. Look behind you. See that strange light in the eastern sky? Some are saying it’s a sign the world is ending. Some are saying it’s a hole that will only get bigger until nothing is left. Some are saying it’s a dagger of fire that will burn up the earth. I don’t know what to believe. It looks like a star to me even if it is the biggest one I have ever seen.
   I’m wandering...what was I saying? Oh, yes... the sheep are my family. I can tell every one of them apart. I know their voices. I know when they are hungry or thirsty. I know when the lambs will come. I know when they are afraid or in danger. Same with when they are ill. You can’t spend a lifetime around them and not know these things.
    Did you know they like music? On windy nights I play my pipe for them. Wind makes them skittery especially when they’ve been newly sheared and the air tickles their skin. How they leap about! Ewes carrying on like day old lambs! Imagine! But the songs quiet them. It helps me too, to forget how much my back aches these days.
  There was a time I could catch a ram all by myself. Those days are over. I have to let the younger men help me. Hmmm, maybe young Sol might like my flock. That’s him across the way, the big one in the middle. He has a good way about him: kind and gentle with the animals despite his size. He’s been kind to me, too.
  You know something? He’s the closest thing I have to a son. I’ve had to swallow my pride whenever he offers to help because I’ve come to realize he never offers unless I need it. I never thought I’d need a shepherd who watches over a shepherd! When you’re young, you think you’ll be young forever...
  What’s that! Sol! Zeb! Ben! You! Get down! The star has exploded behind you! Oh, Lord, oh Lord! What terrible fate do You have for us? Mercy! I cry mercy! Mercy on us all! Oh that I should live to see such things!
  “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  (Lk 2:10-12)
  Look, it’s not the star! It’s a being of light! An angel! An angel! And another! I never imagined...they could be so beautiful...What’s that he said? A Saviour?
  Ahh! The sound! My ears have never been so blessed!’s beautiful! What a gift! A thousand thousand pipes would not even compare!
  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”   (Lk 2:14)
  Sol, Zeb, everyone, they’re gone! Clear up into heaven! Did you see that? Miracles! I tell you miracles!
  Is everyone okay? Are you okay? Good!
  Quick, put the fire out! "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us!" (Lk 2:15) There’s no time to waste! Hurry! Thank you, Sol, for your arm. Let’s see how much speed is left in these ancient bones!
  The sheep? When God sends angels, I am sure He will watch our sheep for us.  They will be safe. I know it sure as I know anything.
  Ben, Zeb, go on ahead. I’ll get there as soon as I can. My friend here and Sol can help me get to Bethlehem. What? Stay behind? No way! I have to see this Saviour the angel was talking about.

  Oh my goodness...look at Him! Isn’t He the most Perfect, most Precious Child you ever saw? Bless the woman, Lord, to have given birth in such a lowly place only to lay this Child of God in a manger, just like the angel said we would find. The star shines brightly right over the spot where He lay! Another miracle! It’s almost as though God has His finger on the Babe.
  Sol, help me to my knees. You, come kneel beside me. All of you, on your knees. This is a Holy place and a Holy night. Praise God! Praise the Child! From angels’ mouths to mine: Glory to God in the highest!
  Silly old man, to weep this way...but for the likes of us to be invited to see the Saviour of all mankind... Would you have dared to imagine such a thing? What a gift! What a blessing! What wondrous things have begun!
  Sol, Zeb, Ben and you there, we must tell the world!


  1. Susan, Thank you for sharing this descriptive account - I feel as if I am right there with the old shepherd!

  2. A number of years ago our pastor, Sally, was talking about Mary and how she was probably only about 15 or 16. Can you imagine having to tell your parents you were pregnant when you had been betrothed and that it was the holy Spirit who caused it. Glad she wasn't my child!I don't think we ever hear her parents' reaction.

    1. I feel that the movie "The Nativity" does an amazing job of portraying the culture of the time.