Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Piggy Tale (by Judy)

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I have one of the most wonderful jobs in the world - farm coordinator for the school where I work. A portion of my work is connected with the soil, with herbs, vegetables and and flowers, with bees, and with critters - specifically sheep and pigs. Though they are cared for by a local farmer, he graciously allows me to be a part of their lives, and to introduce them to children. I have grown to love everything about our farm located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and my soul is very close to all the living things on its land.

Therefore my heart tightened with fear when I heard news that at first sounds amusing. A mom called the front desk to report a piggie wandering around the parking lot, a little guy who took off up the hill after being sighted by legions of dismissed schoolchildren. The receptionist called an administrator who quickly found me. We immediately called our farmer friend and headed outside, where we roamed the property, searching for the little porky runt, the only one small enough to wiggle under the fence and out into the world.

As dusk descended, it was all I could do to keep from tears. Not only is it still a harsh midwest winter, but the Park is filled with coyotes, hawks and the occasional wild dog. My sure knowledge of God's plan, where animals serve a noble purpose by providing food for other animals did nothing to lighten my concern. This is MY piggy, and he should be safe under his straw in the barn. To my immense relief, Farmer Jeff with his trusty sheepdog Riley appeared, ready to head out and search the hills.

The next day I heard the welcome news. After a long search, our little runt had been found. I ran to the barn the next day and saw him cheerfully wandering among the 40 legs of 9 pregnant ewes and their proud male consort, not even aware of his brush with death. I sank to my knees in the straw and remembered the parable of the lost lamb in Matthew and Luke. In this beautiful story of loss, searching and rejoicing, Jesus tells of the faithful shepherd who, aware of impending danger, leaves his flock of 99 safely in the fold, while he roams the hills in search of the one who is lost. When he finds the wee beast, he hoists him on his shoulders and takes him safely home to a time of rejoicing. What comfort for us. There is hope for all who stray, and thanks be to our Good Shepherd, there is great joy in heaven when the lost one is restored!

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