July 6, 2013
This week Terri and I put on more miles than we had anticipated. On Wednesday we drove from Dunbar south toward Dumfries. We had anticipated hiking, but, the tiny roads took longer than we had anticipated. In addition we had watched a BBC special on Sir Walter Scott and the opening of his restored home at Abbotsford. So, we tried to find it, went there, and then discovered it was closed because the Queen was there providing its official grand opening. We told the guards that we were friends but they wouldn’t believe us. Of all things. We then headed south, ended up going to Carlisle, England, didn’t like the city, and headed back to Scotland. 10 hour on the road was longer than we had anticipated or liked.
With the exceptions of cities, it seems that everywhere we turn we are in the midst of scenic wonderful. This time of year is incredibly green. We have seen cows, horses, lots of dogs and especially sheep. We have watched little lambs seemingly grow before our eyes. We have watched their elders go from having a full head of hair (OK, wool) to being nicely sheered, to starting to grow yet again. We have learned that Scotland has 62 breeds of sheep, more than any other country in the world (Australia has only 2). We have learned that there are more sheep in Scotland than people, I would guess well beyond the 5 million inhabitants (I’ve counted at least that many). We have learned that the wool industry in Scotland is hurting. One town we visited has lost 17 woolen mills in the last few decades. The low cost of labor in Indian and China has made competition unbearable.
When you are traveling over an extended period of time, one of the things that begins to develop is you begin to have inside jokes. Years back Terri and I watched the wonderful Pixar movie, UP. If you have never seen it, you should. One of the comical moments in the movie involves the dogs of the bad guy (it seems there is always a bad guy in kids movies). The dogs always seem to become distracted by squirrels. A squirrel didn’t even have to be present. All you had to do was utter the word SQUIRREL and the dog’s focus would shift. Terri and my word has become SHEEP. When we come around a corner on a road and see a hillside with many sheep nibbling on the grass one or the other of us will say, “SHEEP.” Yesterday we were driving on a small country road, came around a corner, and there were sheep standing in the center of the one lane and we said, “Oh, SHEEP” as I quickly stepped on the brakes.
When we first saw these cute little wonders of creation we thought about pulling over and taking pictures of each little beauty. Quite a few times we did. Now, we just say the word and scoot on by. SHEEP have begun to blend in to the world as we know it. No longer special.. No longer unique. They are JUST sheep.
I was thinking yesterday (or was it Thursday? Days and SHEEP seem to blur together) about the times that Jesus called his disciple’s sheep. John 10 is especially poignant…
“My sheep hear my voice and know me and they follow me”
“I am the good shepherd. I lay down my life for the sheep”
…and I wondered, “Do we just begin to blend into Jesus’ world? No longer special? No longer unique? JUST sheep?” And I wondered, “Does Jesus get tired of trying to step around the fertilizer we leave on the trail (let the reader understand)? And I wondered, “Does Jesus agonize when we who were created to produce wool but have become irrelevant and are only good for mutton?”
The Lord is MY shepherd….