12/14/08

The Shepherd's Eyes Are Opened

This week Raymond Pert gave us this Sibling Assignment:


Over the last month, I have been studying ancient and medieval Asian poetry with my students. In particular, the Japanese Kokinshu poems have been on my mind. They are poems of brevity, sometimes seasonal. They anticipate the haiku. Robert Bly often wrote poems in this style. Since we are all getting hit by a winter storm, I'd like us to each write a reflection on this winter poem of Bly's:

Watering the Horse


How strange to think of giving up all ambition!

Suddenly I see with such clear eyes

The white flake of snow

That has just fallen in the horse's mane!


--Robert Bly
Inland Empire Girls post is here, and Raymond Pert's will be here soon.


As I continue to meditate on the Christmas story, and think about different aspects of the many things that contributed to Jesus' birth, I read this poem and my thoughts went toward the Shepherds.


To me, this poem is about having an Ah Hah! moment. In the first line, Bly writes about giving up, of really not having much ambition for anything.


But suddenly he has an Ah Hah! moment. His eyes are opened. He sees a while flake of snow that has just fallen on the horse's mane, and something all of a sudden becomes clear.


I think the Shepherd's had an Ah Hah! moment the night of Jesus' birth. Can you imagine being out in the field, minding your own business, and tending your sheep, and all of a sudden the sky lights up? I am not that familiar with the habits of Shepherds, but I imagine they were a pretty rough group of men. They are probably sitting around a fire, talking, telling stories. Maybe similar to hunting camp the men trek to each October here in the Silver Valley.


Then things start changing. An electricity fills the air. It isn't jackals or wolves endangering the sheep. It is something different.


All of a sudden the sky lights up and an angel appears to them. I'm not sure the angel was dressed in a white gown with a halo and wings. Who knows what the angel looked like, but you know it was something otherworldly.


I'm sure these poor men were scared to death, because the angel said to them...


"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."


Then more angels showed up, and started praising God, and saying:


"Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."


Then the shepherds decide to go to Bethlehem and check this thing out that the angels just told them. It was probably a bit of a walk for them to get to Bethlehem, and to find where Jesus was located. It may have caused quite a stir in the City of David when this group of Shepherds arrived, looking for the baby Jesus.


"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."

The shepherds remind me of many of the guys I grew up with here in the Silver Valley. Good men, but a little rough around the edges. And you probably didn't see them spending a lot of time glorifying and praising God openly and out loud in their daily conversation. Then, all of a sudden, here they were, spreading the word about what they saw, and praising God.


They had encountered The Messiah...Emmanuel...God With Us.


Their lives were changed.


Their eyes were opened....


Ah Hah!!!


Enjoy this song about the Shepherds.



1 comment:

inlandempiregirl said...

Wow! What a beautiful video. I love the way their voices blend together.