2012 has started out in dramatic fashion. It reminds me of St. Paul who wrote to the churches to tell them to rejoice and trust in God no matter what happens. He was in a dismal prison when he wrote those words. (See Phil. 4:4-7)
For our family, New Year’s Day allowed no time to “rejoice” or to write resolutions! When I stumbled out of bed to let the dogs outside, my ears were met with the sound of loud barking from several dogs.
I rushed to throw on a jacket and headed outside. As I rounded the corner, my heart stopped. There were dogs inside our goat pen. One came out of the shelter licking blood. I screamed and three more dogs came out.
A pathetic bleating came from inside the shelter. My mind raced. I was afraid of the dog pack. And how much had they mutilated our two “dwarf” pet goats?
I called the Sheriff rather than face the dogs alone. One of the goats stumbled into the open and fell over dead. The other goat was in shock. I felt the same way. When I finally came inside, my legs were shaking.
Yet, God has a way of granting us hope and light even in the midst of tragedy just as St. Paul said.
The sun came out as the remaining goat, named Jag, finally was coaxed to come into the barn. Jag ran to the front door with me, as if he remembered another time he was hurt and he spent the night in our bathroom. Jag began to follow me around the barnyard like my lamb. The bond with this goat has been strengthened. Now are remaining lonely goat has become quite “talkative.”
A few days later Jag peeled his lip back and made a new sound…he smelled something in the air. Our old horse needed help. Although Brandy was 35, she could still push away the other female horse when a male horse came by! She was like a 150 year old lady competing for the favors of a gentleman!
But now Brandy was had fallen in the thick mud and she couldn’t get up. Her body seemed to shrivel up. She was shaking and dazed. I knelt beside her.
Brigit, our 12 year old, wasn’t ready to give up. She brought out food and ropes. “We can get her up, Mom. We have to,” she cried.
So we did our best. But we could not help her legs to work. Brandy kept falling back to the ground shaking, her eyes rolling.
It was a long afternoon. Finally, the goat called out just as Brandy was put to sleep. Animals seem to know about death. There was a moment of profound silence. No cackling chickens. No barking dogs. No honking donkey. Just silence.
This New Year has made me take stock of life and death.
In the bigger picture, we know there are deeper tragedies that other families are experiencing. The lesson of this new beginning, is that life is a precious gift not to be taken for granted.
One gutsy horse and one protective goat left a barnyard with thawing snow, a new puppy who sleeps at my feet and bright rays of light coming through dark clouds.
God is here through it all. With our faith we know that endings are also new beginnings. Life and death are part of a woven fabric. So our family has made a collective resolution not to take the beauty and bounty of God for granted anymore.
And I have promised to say, “Jesus, I trust in you” every day. Jesus our model and our Lord, is our hope for a future of promise.