Reflecting on Messengers….

Faithful Goat by Henny McCollochThe skies are clear and the air is cold. The way my old dog is hopping and skipping around, you’d think he was a goat. Perhaps he’s invigorated by the cold, but more likely he’s limiting contact with the icy ground. Our routine seems the same every day, out in the morning and at night, but on days like today there is a twist. So I was drawn to this photo of a faithful goat by my friend Henny. She is a letter carrier with a rural route. Each day when she approaches this farm, the goat scurries over and perches on the stone steps in front of this door. So the other day she took a picture of this strange phenomenon. I am intrigued by the sturdy stone steps and cinder block frame, all to protect an old and weathered door. This door appears to enter a barn that has seen better days. I doubt the animals inside receive much protection from the elements. Wind must whip right through the spaces between the slats. So what is the goat protecting? What does the goat seek to guard? Goats get a short shrift in the Bible. We hear how the sheep and the goats are separated, as if one is good and the other bad. Yet perhaps we simply considering two alternatives, both good, both valid, like left and right. Sheep follow their shepherd, are more docile and compliant. Goats skip and run, looking for mischief and adventure. And in the midst of all this nonsense, goats remain sure footed, even on steep or treacherous terrain. Unlike sheep, goats eat practically anything. What if this goat is not a guard, but rather a guide to a more adventurous path? Perhaps he is inviting us to knock on the door, to try the knob, to see what is on the other side. I imagine this goat is not unlike John the Baptist, a messenger preparing the way for Christ. He points beyond the doorway to the manger, where our Lord enters this life as do we all, a helpless infant. Make time today for the goats and the sheep in your life, and in your soul. Consider the path not taken, the adventure you yearn to begin, the risk you fear to take. Pray for the All Merciful to go before you, to bless and protect you, to stretch and soothe your soul. And always remember, no matter how far you wander, the Alpha and Omega will lift you up lest you dash your foot against a stone. Text by Connie Chintall ©2013, photo entitled ‘Steadfast’ by Henny McColloch ©2013, all rights reserved

Reflecting on Presence….

The sticky summer heat is back with a vengeance. The pleasant break in the weather lasted long enough for us to enjoy last weekend, but now it is everything we expect for July in Virginia. So I was drawn to this photo of my dear friend Marge’s silly goats. A few times a day, Marge opens the gate and the goats roam around the pool. On this day, the goats decided lounging around the pool was more like it. When we visit Marge, we often sit in the living room and watch the goats through a wall of windows. The goats are very amusing, often jumping around and playing games with one another. Yet when it is hot like today, even the goats settle down and relax by the pool. When my daughter Tori was a toddler, we would often go to the pool after I picked her up from daycare. We seldom stayed more than an hour, but that hour made all the difference in the world. If my husband Mark wasn’t traveling, he would pick up fried chicken and meet us there. We would have a simple picnic, lounging by the pool like the goats. When Mark and I both worked full time, our leave was often consumed by childcare responsibilities. We seldom took much vacation, so these few hours by the pool became a sort of vacation. We took time to enjoy each other and relax, rather than rush onto the next item on our never ending list of things to do. So perhaps these goats are not so silly after all. To be present to the joy and beauty that surrounds you is to dip you toe into the vastness of eternity. Take time today to relax and enjoy the company of loved ones and the simple pleasures surrounding you. Don’t wait until you can get away to take a vacation. Enjoy what life has to offer, here and now. Photo by Marge Rumbaugh

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