Saturday, November 21, 2009

His Scent Will Be All Over You

Recently we climbed into our truck and drove four hours to Toronto to pick up three new Jacob lambs, who had travelled 10 hours to meet us.  A quick cup of coffee, a short conversation and then we were on the road again.  Arriving at the barn,  everyone crowded around to have a  look...a sniff at these strangers.  Curiosity satisfied, most went back to munching hay.  The two girls, Rhonda and Inga were most unsocial, stomping their dainty feet to warn everyone to keep away.  Sunny our new handsome little ram looked timid and shy as he was settled into the luxury suite by himself. In time, he will grow to  command the respect of the other males in the barn.  Like most breeders, I will cautiously introduce him to the rest of the male sheep as young rams have been known to be injured or killed when meeting new  sheep.

So one evening, I will place Sunny in a small stall with several other males along with some hay, leaving them to spend an intensely uncomfortable night.  In the darkness, they will heave, rub and push on each other until their smell gets in each other’s nostrils  and come morning if they continue to fight, I will separate them and they will meet again another night.  Our new ram must go through such a night if he is to find his place in  the flock and to avoid being seriously hurt. And each time Sunny is separated from his fellow rams, he will return  in the same way.

Many years ago,  under a starry sky, Jacob without the distractions of his family and possessions,  lives through an intensely uncomfortable night with the arrival of a stranger. Throughout the night, they struggle.  It is with the coming of dawn that Jacob finally relents and receives but not before he becomes permanently lame-showing the inward scars of  his life. It took twenty years to bring Jacob to this place on the edge and eve of his entrance into the promised land.  You see- relinquishing did not come easy to Jacob, the Jacob who cheated, deceived and lied. He was a man who at a crucial and appointed moment in time reconciled with his past mistakes.  So Jacob goes his way- changed but he will live to struggle again another day.  He might be tempted to remember this night as the night he became a cripple but he will also know it as the night that he had seen the face of God.

Like Jacob, we too cannot force God to bless us.  It is God who searches for us.  We furrow our brows and fight and fuss but in the end, know that God will have His way with us and as we go in the morning, His scent will be all over us.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Anne and the Chestnut Tree

In this  segment, Anne Frank’s father returns to the Annex at the conclusion of the war.  He reads Anne’s diary for the first time. The rest of the movie can be viewed on you tube, Anne Frank: The Whole Story.

Throughout her time spent living in the Annex, Anne finds hope and peace from studying the   sky, the birds and the chestnut tree standing in the garden.  At the end of her life…so close to liberation,  knowing that her sister Margo has gone and thinking that the rest of her family has gone, the forces of evil become too much for her as her hope gives  way and she dies.  If only…..

February 23, 1944

The two of us looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew, the seagulls and other birds glinting with silver as they swooped through the air, and we were so moved and entranced that we couldn’t speak.

April 18 1944

April is glorious, not too hot and not too cold, with occasional light showers.  Our chestnut tree is in leaf, and here and there you can already see a few small blossoms.

May13, 1944

Our chestnut tree is in full blossom.  It is covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.

How could I have suspected that it meant so much to Anne to see a patch of blue sky, to observe the gulls during their flight and how important the chestnut tree was to her, as I recall that she never took an interest in nature.  But she longed for it during that time when she felt like a caged bird.  She only found consolation in thinking about nature.  But she had kept such feeling completely to herself.  Otto Frank


Like Anne, we must know what to hang onto …what to hope for if we are to survive.  May we never forget what we are capable of,  nor what we can endure through suffering.