Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sheep C: A Peek Inside the Cote

I hosted a slumber party this weekend for eight of my favorite Ewes. Sheep M was there, too, so there’s a clue for those of you wondering who the male member of our trio is. Most of us were fifty-somethings, Sheep M being the young chipper of the crowd, and we had the distinct pleasure of an eighteen-year-old who joined us for dinner and breakfast.

We had the best time! We ate a wonderful dinner, had rich desserts, got little gifts, and lots of wine and cranberry/pomegranate martinis. We stayed up late, late, watched Where the Heart Is, identifying with Novalee’s and Lexi’s poor choices of men, and generally were totally hedonistic. We crashed all over the house about 3:00 a.m., sleeping in every available space, including the couch and two cots.

When the breakfast hour came, we all trailed sleepily into the kitchen for coffee, settling around my breakfast table for biscuits, bacon and fruit. After a night of light-hearted fun and, I think, bonding, it was amazing to me that talk on its own shifted to the serious. It wasn’t planned, and it wasn’t a downer. It was just where everyone wanted to go at the moment and, as I said, it was amazing…

I don’t want to disclose the nature of the troubles, because the subject of those worries might just peek into this blog (we hope so), and the Sheep’s Cote is a sacred thing. It is a place of safety, somewhere to come into during the dark night of life. (Oh, my, am I waxing poetic here!).

Quite literally, we talked through present life for several hours. Each one of us has either gone through some life-devastation or is going through it right this very moment. We were able to vent honestly, to ask “What am I to do?,” to share what we have done in similar situations in the past, and to say, “Well, I know what I would do—I wouldn’t put up with that, not one more minute” (Tuff Talk!)

This last strong outburst made us laugh (Confession: it was me, the "Tuff Talker" who said this). We all agreed that it was the right advice; we also all agreed that we can sure talk tough when it’s someone else’s life. Execution of same was going to be much harder than speaking it! So, we head-on talked about whether we should even have been spouting this tough talk when we all knew that dealing with a loved one is a complicated task. What we came to was this: Yes, we should issue this sound-but-hard advice within the fold, but we also needed to give grace to the Ewe involved as she faced this serious situation. One of us spoke up with this wisdom (borne of her own similar past pain): “You are just going to have to move as God speaks to you.

In the end, we knew that we had not actually solved any of the problems presented, but we sure had allowed for honest airing. We had given each a safe place to which to return for support and the benefit of hindsight on our own past messes for guidance.

I was reminded of how our ultimate source of both guidance and comfort is God Himself, and how we are supposed to share those gifts of help from above with others:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. Corinthians 1:3, 4 (NIV).

And this is exactly what was happening around my breakfast table! It was a natural, non-contrived occurrence because this is just what happens within the fold. It is one of the great purposes of the flock. – Sheep C, 12/14/2008

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