DEEPLY AWAKE CHANNEL “The Shepard’s Introduction”
By Kathy Vik 5-24-16
WE are well aware of the question which this one holds, and we hold nothing but love for her awarenesses, and wish only to amplify and instruct, to soothe and to inform, gently, and in honor to the one who has stolen a few moments away from whichever thing is suddenly a little less urgent, though it remains important, our reader now able, for these few moments, to quiet and soften, and learn something you have simply forgotten, but is well within your grasp of understanding, we tell you all.
There was a Shepard who was steadfast and strong, skilled at his craft, and those in the village knew of his special ways. At one with these bleating gentle beasts who eventually, over the span of their lives came to clothe and warm and enrich the villagers lives, and who, in the end, disappeared, replaced with babies, the ones who came before enlivening the very bodies of the happy villagers, who feasted on mutton when it was time, always in the right time.
The sheep did their service so willingly, and they felt from the man who walked among his love toward them, and so they naturally and willingly did as he requested, simply because he never did anything but assist them in their work, silent ones whose service spoke of such unlanguagable love that sometimes the lone Shepard, deep in the night, under the stars he would weep, just at the beauty of it all, at the cycle of life and love he saw as he walked through his days.
Being what he was, the villagers were kind to him and allowed him his oddnesses, which were quite obvious, more of a gentle hermit than someone fit for ceremonial dinners or the village’s frequent, intimate, gatherings filled with favored music and food and wine, much laughter, much dancing, and blazing candlelight, well into the night, most often in the summer, when the skies turned into ears, and the Shepard need only lean back onto his rock to feel the gales of laughter, and know of a bliss which had always escaped him, an achievement he held very dear, and told no one about, not even his beloved sheep. He knew for them to lose him was not in order, it was just not the right thing, and yet, as the years continued, he found leaning back onto that rock on summer nights made his chest ache, and made him cry, just as his knowledge of a greater connection had fed him, clothed him, and armed him day after day.
When the Shepard came into town, he had always been purposeful, polite and focused. He found the company of those who couldn’t see things as he did on long deep silent nights, thinking so fondly of his animals, stressful, because often they wore their clothes in ways that told him they did not realize the true value of their sweater, their coat, their shawl, their health and girth. He found no value in those who did not see this circle he felt spinning through him, during those unpleasant but brief travels into town. And though, as he aged, his longing to attempt some human contact expanded, it always failed, it always left him, in the end, leaning against his wailing rock, wondering what in the world he would do about his once uncomplicated and generous, kind and enjoyable, creative and sustained life.
It happened that on a fresh spring night the villagers held a banquet, visitors from all corners had chosen this weekend to sample delicacies the villagers had created, and the music promised was a culmination of the entire village coming together so very often, in teams, in pairs, and in groups, to practice for this magnificent event.
At the party, three revelers stumbled outside to look at the moon and catch their breath. All three were blushing with possibilities which had seemed impossible only a day before, but who found themselves in a strange land, disconnected from their old ways, their old habits. Each wore a pretty shawl, the air still being bitten by a memory of winters chilling embrace.
They became quiet, holding themselves, looking up, swaying, two of them, overcome with simplicity itself, and a vibrancy none had felt, ever, in their lives. The air was suspended in expectance, and yet, its presence seemed gift enough, as full as they felt, looking up at the moon.
A woman came up next to them then, a villager, and she too took her time to look, and smile, and wink at her old friend, and then she turned and engaged these out of towners in small talk.
One of the out of towners lifted her pale hand to the villager’s shawl, touched it and gasped. She brought herself to the woman’ shoulder and brought the shawl to her cheek., closed her eyes and moaned. So soft! So pure! Unknown to the villager, the one enraptured by this simple scarf, transported now in some artisnal delight, was an master spinner, and though those around her knew nothing of the art, they encouraged this love, for it was her passion, and it was her hobby, and it, later, became one of her missions, to find the finest wool in the land, having in mind a dress for a function so sacred to her she never spoke of it. A thing for private moments and secret grins, a way to stave off boredom and allow her some imaginative play, she always figured, as she went about her daily tasks.
The villager asked the woman to explain, and so, she did. She insisted on learning more about these sheep, and their keeper. She learned, and then went inside to confer with the ones she’d traveled with.
They spoke kindly and with great respect to one another, each having odd things which fired their passions and imaginations, each fond tenders to a small flame they’d kept in plain sight, but had not brought to anyone’s attention, merely a part of what made them who they were, in these far away lands from which they stood apart this magical night.
They decided that a feast was no better time to ask the Shepard to come in, to eat and drink and share his views on his craft, to explain what he did, but more, to learn just who he was, what someone was made of and thought about, who could have a hand in such complicated, organic work.
These passionate ones had, by then, gone to each villager and inspected their garments, and the travelers’ excitement had grown to a swell so bright that as lighted torches bobbed above the stony paths linking village to meadowlands, chattering became obvious first to the flock, and then to the Shepard, who’d fallen asleep, curled under a lip in a rock wall, sheltered, but nearly impossible to see when passing by. The chatter grew to loud voices, and the Shepard stirred, wondering momentarily if he was awake or dreaming.
Encircling his little rock wall, he standing there shivering and disoriented, were visitors, and approaching him the woman who’d noticed the villagers shawl, asking now if he was indeed the Shepard of these lands. He responded he was, and she then embraced him, and a call went out, the passionate ones, a few of them actually crying, knowing what it meant to have one’s art so definitely recognized, led the cheers which rang through that still and cool spring night. Bravo! Bravo! was echoed, and applause naturally bubbled up, and then died of its own momentum.
In the end, the group all fell silent, looking at the Shepard, who had no context to place any of these happenings, and who remained somewhat dazed and thunderstruck.
He asked the woman, “Tell me what has happened. You are acting like there is something wrong, and yet you hug me, but I have no idea why. I am,” he looked down and cleared his throat, then said, “Very glad to see all of you this night, however. It’s very nice to see you all.” He wiped away a tear, hoping no one saw how moved he was.
The woman came to him and stood next to him and said, “It’s so clear to me now we should have waited until morning, but, we were moved, you see, and wanted to express our recognition for your artistry, your understanding, your craft. I have never encountered such healthy, perfect wool, sir, and I wanted to tell you that you surpassed even my uncompromising standards.”
Her husband cleared his throat and she smiled, thinking on a disagreement they had had just hours earlier, now, happily, resolved.
She continued, “Won’t you join us in the village tomorrow, for breakfast, and simple talk, so that you could perhaps feel comfortable enough with me, as a friend, to tell me how you do what you do?”
Thus began a new chapter in the life of this lonely Shepard, having simply toiled in his fields, unaware it had been toil, but instead, doing that which fed him, instructed him, and soothed him.
As an honored guest, he learned to speak clearly, and he found that his talk of reverence and respect toward simple beasts was not only agreeable to the others, but by telling them of his profound love for the beasts, and their greater love for the villagers, his hosts showed more care toward their garments, and some were wearing their finest pieces, no longer holding them safe for annual events.
Accord was struck, and you can imagine that there might actually be many changes for this simple man, and too, for those who had stumbled upon an artist the likes of which they had not seen for quite some time, one who spoke with such reverence of his work that the love in those words seemed to be fused to each impossibly soft fiber. Everyone, it seemed to him, finally behaved as if they understood his truth, the song in his heart for these simple creatures, the grasses, the sun and the wind and the solitude, even that, somehow, felt appreciated.
Did his reputation precede him from that time forward, or was it simply his continued artistry and craftsmanship which allowed him free access to that which he’d long resigned he could, would, never know?
WE leave to ask you to ponder these questions, and the many others this little parable provokes. The question had been that of her beloved Jesus, how there came a time when he no longer spoke of great truths, but walked around saying, hey you guys, I AM this stuff, I used to just think it, but now I’m here to tell you, I am that and I am you and you are your neighbor, and your neighbor is an angel, so act nice. Ha!
How these two stories correlate we also leave with you, with a puzzle, and perhaps, suddenly, overnight, for you, too, there might be a sudden visitation of insight, of recognition, of light, of long lost friends, perhaps, and of accord.
WE leave you this evening telling you all is well, you are loved more than you know, and to rest easy, each, all, forever and ever.
Just like in bedtime tales of kingdoms form long, long ago.