Lamb pictures are worth a thousand preacher words. Every year after Lamb Day I imagine a post on this blog that is nothing but pictures of people encountering lambs. Perhaps this will be the closest I come to that. Lamb Day was last Saturday, so here you go- five lessons, with illustrations.
1. Sheep don’t bite.
I still smile remembering how my colleague Peter Ilgenfritz shouted that discovery to another colleague. We were on the farm for a staff retreat, and Peter had been helping me with a ewe and her new lamb. This ewe was not sure she wanted to be a mother, and would butt her lamb away any time he wanted to eat. For the lamb to feed, someone had to hold on to the ewe’s head to keep that from happening.
“Will she bite me?” Peter asked when I assigned him this task.
“No,” I replied. “Sheep don’t bite”.
Until that question came up, I had no idea anyone would worry about a sheep bite and the damage it might cause. But ever since I saw the relief on Peter‘s face, and heard him call out excitedly and informatively to the next person to arrive, I have watched for visitors’ anxiety and repeated that wisdom. For little children especially, it is good to know that sheep don’t bite.
2. Lamb day spirituality is organic.
The sacredness of the day grows naturally from the experience of loading one’s family or simply one’s self into a car, taking a ferry boat across the water to an island, and holding a lamb. Or finding eggs in the chicken coop, or petting a horse, or hiking through woods, or picking dandelions. It is both invigorating and healing. The truest spiritualities always are.
3. A pastor is able to host Lamb Day on Saturday and still preach on Sunday.
But you better count on that sermon being soaked in nature. It was fortunate that last week the sermon text was Psalm 121: “I will lift my eyes to the mountains from whence cometh my help.” as the King James Bible reads. To that I added a John Muir quote:”Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.”
4. It takes a village to host a Lamb Day
Thank you to Meighan Pritchard, Linda and Tony Messent and everyone who helped prepare the farm for the day. Thank you to Betsy Herring, Margaret Swanson, and everyone who helped spread the invitation. Thank you to all the ewes, lambs, chickens, dogs and other creatures who cooperated. And thank you everyone who came and made Lamb Day such a wonderful day.
5. Even shepherds need a sabbath.
After Lamb Day and a full Sunday, it’s good to take some time off.
I am now on vacation until next Tuesday.