Friday, August 25, 2006

More for the Masses

Ready for a big one?
I recovered from the lion attack over the next two weeks. Thanks be to the One, I had not broken any ribs. The bruises slowly faded away, while the gashes from the lion’s claws sealed over into scars. When I could walk about the house, I proudly showed them off to anyone that had the stomach to see. The younger girls of the city snuck glimpse of me whenever they passed me at rest in our courtyard. I would open my eyes at the sound of feminine giggles, but could scarcely catch sight of their source.

One morning, I woke up face to face to a lion. I scrambled from my bedding with a start before I realized the truth. Shamarr laughed so hard he nearly pissed. Shortly after dropping me off on the day I fought the beast, he had returned with the servants and the ass. My prize now lay at my feet.

“You needed new bedding, anyways,” he snickered.

Soon after, Ruth pronounced me fit enough to resume my duties. I presented myself to my father.

He looked me over with an inscrutable look. “I see that you’ve regained your strength, my young lion-slayer.”

“By the will of the Almighty and my sister’s gifted hands, I have, Father,” I replied.

“And has your strength also returned to your fingers?”

I gave him a perplexed look. What did my fingers have to do with shepherding?

As if he heard my own thoughts, my father said, “No, not for pasturing our flocks. For this!”

He held up a harp before me. A beautiful arm of polished cedar arched like the top of a composite bow. The strings hung taunt, ready for its player. The lyre could have cost a year’s wages.

“I couldn’t,” I sputtered.

“Yes, you could,” my father replied, with a smirk.

I ran my fingers across the strings. The notes rang true, rising off the nylon strings like a flock taking flight. Resting the harp in the crook of my left elbow, I felt as though I had owned it my entire life.

“I understand you composed a song soon after your victory,” Father said.

I had. The words came to me unbidden, as they usually did. I often composed such songs while I tended my father’s flocks. My songs soothed their distress and helped me to pass the days in peace; a shepherd’s days can defy eternity when there are no lions to fight.

I strummed a common opening, letting the harp receive the first adulation. Then I let my song rise:

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;

I will declare all your wondrous deeds.
I will delight and rejoice in you;
I will sing hymns to your name, Most
For my enemies turn back;
They stumble and perish before you.

I let my fingers finish the song. For a long moment, my father said nothing. When I made to stand, he held up his hand.

“I did not realize until this moment just how much the Lord has given you, David,” he said, “A heart that fights his battles and sings his praises, beating from within the breast of one man. This is a rare thing, son.”

I bowed my head in gratitude. How else could I answer him?

He smiled at me. “Our flocks await you, Lion-slayer. Be sure to entertain them with your new gift.”

The days passed without event. Each morning at sunrise, I took the sheep from our enclosure underneath our second-floor bedrooms and brought them to our summer pasture. They ate and drank their fill, and I always guided them to the greenest and most tender fields. They drank from the cleanest springs that I could find. The monotony of keeping watch soon ate away my patience. Shammah had returned to duty the day after he had surprised me with the lion. I had no one to practice my poor swordsmanship with in the pasture. Once more, I found myself longing to stand by my brothers’ side and face the Uncircumcised.

Rumors had spread faster than flies that these unchosen would soon move against the Anointed. All of the tribes had enjoyed rare seasons of peace since he had crushed the Philistine’s last incursion at the pass of Michmash. The Moabites to the east, seeing what King Saul had done to the Amelekites, had left us in peace, as well. But that changed when tribesman had reported seeing large contingents of Philistines march from their coastal cities. Soon after, The Anointed summoned all the tribes to send whatever men they could spare to assemble at the capital, Gibeah.

I remember the day that the herald had come to Bethlehem with the news. His motted hair and darkened skin revealed the long days he had spent on the road. He brushed the saturation of dust from his tunic and issued the summons.

“King Saul, the Anointed of the Most High, calls upon the men of Bethlehem to bear arms for our nation, Israel. All men from the ages of fourteen until fifty must arrive armed and prepared for war at Gibeah by mid-summer.”

He took time only to eat a small meal of bread, cheese and a half-cup of wine before he took his leave.

I had longed to answer that call, of course. My second oldest brother, Abinadab, laughed me out of his presence. I bristled under his scorn, but I had no answer for him. Although I stood taller than other young men my age, I lacked the broad chest and shoulders my brothers possessed. While I had become formidable with the sling, they showed aptitude in all of the weapons of war. There was no question who from our family would go.

And who would stay.

Since I could not march to war or even practice for it, I composed. Song after song I unleashed to my captive audience. They applauded me with choruses of bleating and close nestling. When jackals and wolves shattered the dusk’s peace with their howls, my playing and singing set their hearts at ease.

I soon found other audiences demanded my songs.

It began after dinner a week after I resumed shepherding. My uncles Obed and Jediah, along with their families, reclined with us. Obed, like my father, had earned his considerable fortune herding sheep and selling wool, goat’s milk and cheese in the city market. Unlike my father, he had proudly let his gut pour over his belt.

“The Greek uncircumcised across the Great Sea regard an excess of the waistline as a sign of success,” he would laugh when asked about his unseemly appearance.

His boisterous laughter could be heard six houses away, and he often found a reason for mirth. He never failed to show his generosity, and many in Bethlehem loved the man.

Since we shared our courtyard with my uncles, dining together was nothing new. My uncle’s interest in my singing, however, was unprecedented. After we had finished a succulent supper of lamb, legumes, and a humus of grain and olives, Obed insisted that I serenade him.

“Your father won’t give me a moment’s peace, nephew,” my uncle laughed, “He goes on and on about your songs. Sing us one, so I can judge for myself whether or not he’s cracked!”

The rest of the families echoed his sentiment. I have to admit it; my cousin Rachel—Obed’s daughter—convinced me to do it. And all she did was smile at me.

Rachel’s smile could coax me into many things.

I brought out my harp, strummed the chords, and sung praise to the Lord that shepherds, especially, appreciate:

The Lord is my Shepherd;

I shall not want.
You lie me down in Green pastures,
You lead me to fresh waters;
You restore my soul
You guide me along the path of righteousness
For your name’s sake.
Yeah, even though I walk through the valley
Of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil for you are with me
Your rod and staff comfort me.

When I finished, they greeted me with silence and tears. Obed whistled softly. Rachel gazed at me as though I had awoken from the tomb. My mother nodded her head in approval.

Obed, at last, found his voice. “Your father is definitely not cracked!”

We laughed together. If I had a gift for music, he had a gift for lightening hearts.

And wagging his tongue.

Within a week of my performance at my family’s table, all of Bethlehem, it seemed to me, insisted that I sing for them. House after house I would visit after my supper. Sunrise after sunrise I returned to the pastures with the sheep. Not even a fortnight after my premier as the singer of Bethlehem, I courted exhaustion. At last, my Father intervened.

He summoned the six other city elders to his home one night. After supper, he raised the issue of my nightly performances. “While I treasure my son’s talent, and rejoice with you in his sharing of it with us all, I am concerned,” He said, “David can’t exhaust himself pasturing my sheep during the day and our people at night.”

Ezekiel, one of the oldest elders on the council, responded, “What would you propose, Jesse? The people love David on account of his singing. They would not take lightly to his retirement.”

“I do not propose that David no longer sing for the people. I propose that he no longer perform each night before each home.”

“What do you have in mind?” asked Ashod, another elder.

“Let David perform in the city square on the eve of the Sabbath. The people will enjoy his songs even more knowing they’ll have a day to rest after them. My son will only need to work one day and night a week rather than seven. Finally, every family that wants to listen will have the opportunity to do so.”

The elders were delighted with my father’s solution. I sighed in relief; at last, I could rest after dinner!

I worked in the pastures that week. I played for my city the evening of the Sabbath after the elders had met in council. More days passed. Meanwhile, the winds of inevitable war dwindled to innuendo and unfounded rumor. The Philistines had not advanced past their territory. The uncircumcised to the east laid low. The army continued to muster and train at Gibeah, but the Anointed granted more furloughs with greater frequency. In the absence of an eminent threat, He could not keep the men of the tribes indefinitely. Nor could our king disband the army. Furloughs were the regrettable compromise he made between military and political necessities.

My brothers were among the first granted leave. My father met them at the gates, along with several well-wishers, whom had formed an impromptu parade. That night, my mother served us roasted veal, curds, fresh boiled vegetables and cheese. My father himself poured some of his own pressed wine into my brothers’ cups. Uncle Obed’s wife—Aunt Miriam—served them fresh cakes that she had baked for the occasion. We feasted like the Patriachs!

“The uncircumcised bluster, but they have no loins for war,” Abinidan said.

“Don’t fool yourself,” Eliab retorted, “They’ll come when they’re ready.”

“Everyone says that they’ll strike Bethlehem before winter,” my youngest sister, Rebecca, offered.

“Don’t utter such foolishness, Rebecca,” My mother warned, “Idle words on idle lips will only waste your time.”

“Yes, wise counsel, niece. I wish I had listened to it earlier in my life,” Obed said.

“They won’t strike Bethlehem or anywhere else in Judah! They tremble at our banners, I tell you!” Abinidan said.

“Yes, brother, they tremble at our pitchforks and hoes, at our bronze swords and tired asses. They shiver before our tired slings and worn arrow shafts.” Eliab replied.

“Where is your heart, brother? Do you fear these Philistines?”

“Yes, I do! And if you had more sense, you would, too!”

“Well said, brothers!” Shammah exclaimed, “Let’s make our homecoming a council of war. Perhaps we can send the Anointed our best strategy for dealing with the Unchosen. Who knows? We may yet become princes of Israel?”

Rebecca spit out her food in laughter. Mother and Ruth pressed their hands over their mouths, in vain. Even my father chuckled at my now blushing brothers. Eliab glared at Shammah, while Abinadab gave him a mock salute.

“War, like the rains of winter, will come to us soon enough,” My father said, “All we can do is prepare ourselves against those who bring it, and trust that the Most High will see us through.”

“Would that the Most High entrusted us with iron smolts and smiths to run them,” Eliab muttered.

“Don’t mock the Almighty!” I heard myself blurt out.

The table as one stared at me. “So I’m to now suffer council from this shepherd and singer?” Eliab shouted back.

Before I could say another word, he stormed away from the table. Ruth rose to go after him, but my mother held up her hand.

“Your brother doesn’t need your help, daughter. Leave him be.”

“If the enemy could see the fire of hearts like Eliab, they would reconsider their
ambition,” Obed said.

“Oh, why do you trouble Jesse’s family with your banter? Can’t you see that they have enough woes?” Miriam said.

“So now my complementing Eliab’s spirit burdens our hosts? I never realized how weak-kneed my family has become!”

Several of my relatives bickered all at once. Their cacophony would drive a starving pack of wolves miles away from a thousand sheep. My father said nothing. He sipped his wine, listened and then took a bite of his cake. All the while, my brothers, sisters, cousins, aunt and uncle argued.

My father finally stood up from his couch. Voices trailed off in mid-sentence. He looked across his table at each of us. “The oldest of us remember how the Philistine’s sandal pressed against our neck,” He said, “Eliab alone of my sons remembers the fury of the uncircumcised, and how the Philistines occupied much of our land. Their discipline and their steel have ensured them dominion for generations. Now, they seek again to impose their will upon us.

Why then should we not tremble at their approach? Yet we must not yield to our fear. Our King has defeated them before. El has won victory after victory over them for us. When we entrust ourselves into his hands, and obey his word, then we will not need to fear the Philistine’s or any other unchosen.”

He retired from the table. The homecoming feast of my brothers ended with his departure. My mother, aunts and sisters cleared the table they had set under the clear sky. My father and the men went upstairs to discuss other matters. My brothers retired to their bedding.

I waited as long as I could, but Eliab did not return. I entered the room I shared with my brothers and threw myself on my lion-skin, between Jessup and Joshua. I had not wanted to let the day close with anger still seething between Eliab and myself.

Unfortunately, I no longer had a choice.

Little did I realize, then, that the rift between us would soon widen to an abyss.

Be advised that this is a rough first draft. Meaning, I wrote and haven't editted it a lick. There may be grammatical errors and the like throughout. I'll clean them up during the polish, after the second revision. Whenever that is.

Thank you for your kind feedback. Thanks for your patience, too!


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Summer Bows

Cicadas cry out
As crickets symphonies consume
The night's last silence

An August Reflection

I wrote this last night.

Or should I say this morning?
A minute after midnight.

The second minute of Thursday, August the twenty-fourth (24th) of 2006. A week from today, I'll attend the first day of academic year 2006/2007. A week ago, I grumbled at the day wasted on a worn-out weedwacker.

Tonight, I can't feel my thumb, and I can barely hold this pen. I hear a distant, high-pitched and sustained ringing in my ears. My arms haven't been this stiff in a long, long time.

But my yard has been tended. I kept my property in order. The new weedwacker works well!

Summer is over. I'm content. How can I describe this serenity? How do I account for it?

It began when I believed God is Love once again. When I emptied my mind of my own prejudicial conceptions of who God is, I understood the truth. When I perceived the fullness of Love as he is, I saw my plaguing lust as the twisting and gnarled shadow that she is.

It continued when I saw The Cloud of Unknowing.

Leave it to Love to ensure that Mira and I would once again vacation in the arms of his Church. While touring Kennebunk, Maine, we stayed at the Fransican Guest House. It's on the grounds of one of Kennebunk's principal points of interest--the Franciscan Monastery. After taking a trolley tour through town, we departed at the very stop from which we had boarded--just outside the Friary. I had no small bills to tip the driver. Feeling remiss, I headed to the gift shop at the rear. Mira accompanied me.

I would have bought some small gift to break my $20.00 bill and have been done with it. While I knew that the trolley wouldn't wait, I was sure I'd see the driver again. As I browsed the gift shop, I came to the book section. That's when I saw it.

A new edition of The Cloud of Unknowing sat among the tomes.

I had read William Johnston's translation long ago. Seeing this one, my heart swelled open. I read this new version's opening chapter and fell in love. Bernard Bangley's modern translation preserved the essence of the anonymous English mystic's voice. Suddenly, I longed to hear it again.

Mira groaned. I insisted.

I opened it later at the beach. The counsel of this 14th century mystic nourished my own impoverished conscience. As the waves danced with the sand and the gulls sang, I experienced the immediacy of the moment with a fresh and penetrating new attention.

My prayer life received a vital resuscitation. I longed to be united with the Spirit once again. I wanted to be one with God who is love once more.

Each reading inflamed this desire. Tonight, I sat in contemplation. I let go of every thought, feeling, image--yes, my very me! I hurled my "love" against that cloud of unknowing between me and Love.

And my days in the desert ended.

Now, I'm content. I'm actually restless in my moment, my present of peace. I'll soon need to lie down and let sleep take me. But for now, I'm alright.

Twenty-five minutes into the first day of my last week of summer vacation, I'm alright.
Deep, huh?

It's all true. Paraclete Press publishes Mr. Bangley's rendition. If you're interested in purchasing it, and you'd rather forego Amazon, click here.

Another Bone

Here's another excerpt:
Shammah soon returned with two of our servants and a donkey. Though the pasture was a short walk from our home, I could not even stand. My father’s servants helped me onto the donkey and walked, one on each side, as Shammah led the beast home.

Bethlehem is more a town then a city, and word of my exploit had traveled fast. My mother and sisters’ wailing, all the way from my father’s house near the top of the second hill to the city’s western gate, ensured that it would. By the time Shammah had brought me to the gate, several families lined up on either side of the road to see me. They gaped as though I had taken on the uncircumcised Philistines single-handedly.

My father awaited me at the gates of his house. The two servants helped me off the donkey and into my father’s own room. There Ruth, my oldest sister, rubbed my chest and ribs with a foul-smelling oil. She apprenticed under Deborah, daughter of Malachi, the wisest midwife in our province. When Ruth finished dressing me with her wretched oils, she wrapped my ribs in soft shroud-cloth, as though preparing me for my buriel. She spoke not a word to me while she ministered. I could tell from her trembling hands that she wanted to choke the life out of me, for the foolishness she believed I had committed.

When she finished, she spoke at last. “Get some rest, and you may walk again, brother.”

She departed before I could answer.

After sunset, my father came to me. “So how is my young lion’s bate feeling?”

My father looked on me with the tender kindness he’s always shown. Behind his smile, however, I spied the grief that lay hidden behind his cheerful eyes.

Jesse, son of Obed, had seen many years, yet he’d lost none of the vigor of his youth. Even with his grizzle hair and beard, he looked as though he’d wrestle a young bear and exhaust it. His mind had lost none of his formidable wit, as well. Through sensible investment and hard work, he had expanded his holdings, until his estate had become the most prosperous in Bethlehem. His success, along with his heritage within the tribe of Judah, had earned him the respect of the city. He had long served as one of the twelve elders of Bethlehem, and everyone in town sought his counsel.

What must he think of me, having thrown myself at a lion over one of his lambs. I felt a rush of shame come over me, then. I had nearly thrown my father, and my whole family, into grief over one lamb.

“Father, forgive me,” I sputtered, as shameful tears welled in my eyes.

“There is nothing to forgive, my son. You did what any devoted shepherd would do. I commend your bravery and devotion, if not your judgement.”

“I smelt him, then saw him snatch the lamb,” I continued, “and I felt enraged!”

He listened, which didn’t happen often. Then again, I rarely spoke so much in my Father’s presence.

“I couldn’t let it take one of our own,” I said.

“I understand, son,” my father said, “Though we have many in our flock. Still, I would have done the same.”

He sat on the floor, next to my bedding. “After all, that is the mark of a good shepherd, David.”

A good shepherd: I thought again of the strange voice. I heard myself explain my experience, as though I, myself, were another person hearing the tale. He raised his hand to his face, two fingers on his cheek; he always gestured thus when he thought deeply.

“Have you told anyone else of this?” He asked.

“Only you,” I answered.

“Good. Let us keep this between us, for now,” He said.


“The Lord moves in mysterious ways, my son. Had he wanted his revelation to you known, he could have made it thus. Who are we, then, to countermand him?”

“The Lord’s revelation?” I sat dumbfounded at the possibility.

“You felt the breath of your own death when that lion struck you. Perhaps your heart was more open to what El had to say. Besides, as you have said, who else could have spoken?”

“But what could this mean?” I felt a terrible fear nestle in my heart.

He shook his head. “I know not, but we will know when we’re meant to.”

I made to speak further, but he held up his hand.

“Trust in the Lord, our God, David. He will always see you through.”

Bidding me to rest, My father rose and left. I lay there, thinking of what my father had said. I wondered at what everything could mean until the growing darkness of night finally seduced me. My last thought before sleep took me was of shepherding.

Late Summer, Early Morning

Ceiling fan's soft whirl:
Soft, delicate draft touches
My exposed ankles.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Upon the Breech of My Long Silence

I had little Foolishness to offer.

The long and the short of it is that. We returned from a wonderful vacation in the Catskills. Israel had already begun its war against Hezbollah. The world continued to move. I did not want to keep up. Couldn't really.

You see, two things have happened, lately.

The first is the recovery from this past year. We worked harder than ever at the school this year. I felt sore from the effort--much of it in vain, nevertheless. I felt raw from my misplaced entry into chapter politics. Most of all, I felt dead tired. It was time for time off.

Second, I'm writing up a storm. You see, I'm haunted by a story. Can you keep a secret? I think this is a big one. So I grasping it anecdote by anecdote. It's important, it's compelling.

It takes a lot of time and attention.

Want a taste?

Do I have to remind you that the following excerpts(s) are copyrighted 2006? I didn't think so! Of course, if you want to share snippets of excerpts, feel free, as long as you attribute it. But why am I telling you? You're all experienced! You know the deal!

Try it, you'll like it!
“Move your feet!”

I struggled to do so—too late. Shammah stepped in and pressed his blade against my own with all his weight. I collapsed like a drunken Ishmaelite. He shifted his grip on the hilt of his blade and brought it down to my exposed gut. Had I truly been in battle, I would have fed the crows.

He offered me his hand, along with a bemused look. Glaring at him for the one, I took the other and stood up.

“Blade work is about balanced, David. You can’t just lunge and slash. Keep your feet under you when you thrust.”

“You have at least fifteen pounds on me, brother,” I protested.

“So will many other warriors. That won’t stop them from killing you,” He replied.

We assumed our opening stance. He motioned me toward him with a fast jerk of his chin. I took a quick breath and stepped in. He parried in stance, then stepped back to block my follow-up. I stepped with him.

“Good!” He said.

Then he pressed into me again. This time, I stepped back as he brought his weight forward. Parrying his overhead slash, I kept my feet moving as he had instructed. Then Shammah came at me faster. I back-pedaled, caught on the defensive.

“Don’t cede the initiative! Reposition and strike!” my brother commanded.

I angled to my right and then made my move. As he thrust toward where I had been, I easily parried his blade away, opening his center. I spun on my foot and then trust.

Shammah wasn’t there.

I fell into the gnawed grass. His blade pressed into my back.

“What was that?” he asked me.

“Taking back the initiative,” I answered.

“Yes, so that the worms will have a worm meal.”

“I had you.”

“Yes, you did. Then you twirled like a Canaanite dancer. I could have skewered you right there.”

“So what should I have done?” I asked, feeling the first tremble of rage boil up from my gut.

“Don’t overcommit to the parry when you change position. Just move the trust off center. Then strike through. Don’t waste time with stunts like that!”

I flung my blade across the pasture. The nearest sheep shied away, wary of my temper.

“I guess that ends today’s lesson,” Shammah said.

“I’ll never serve the Anointed if I can’t fight!”

“You’ll never fight for the Anointed with an attitude like that!” Shammah responded.

“Easy words, coming from you, brother,” I snapped, “You, Abinadab and Eliab have already served in the Anointed’s army these past two years. Meanwhile, look where I am!”

“Yes, let’s look where you are, little brother,” Shammah said. His voice softened, but a darkness had crossed his piercing eyes. While my eldest brother Eliab had an explosive temper, Shammah was slow to anger. When he did, he would not shout as Eliab did. Instead, he spoke lower and softer.

I preferred my eldest brother’s outburst.

“Our father entrusts you with the prize of our family’s wealth,” Shammah continued, “Our family enjoys the prestige that his hard work has earned. You safeguard the fruit of his labors. Think on that before you squander it over some misplaced lust for blood-drenched fields.”

He stared long and hard at me. I shriveled beneath his quiet anger. I looked away.

“But I want to fight with you and our brothers! I want to serve all Israel, too!”

Shammah’s eyes softened. “There are many ways to serve our people, David. Shepherding is honorable work. Does not El Adonai shepherd his own people?”

“When he’s not winning glory for himself on the battlefield,” I answered.

My brother laughed. “A shepherd with a warrior’s heart: that’s my little brother, alright!”

He tussled my hair. Just then, the wind shifted. The terrifying odor bathed me like a sudden winter shower. Birds scattered from nearby trees. The sheep bleated in distress, and they scurried.

Too late. An old lion bounded from nearby overgrowth. He pounced on the nearest of my father’s sheep; a lamb that had recently been weaned from his mother. The savy old predator did not kill the lamb, for he had already seen my brother and I. Instead, he took the stunned lamb and dragged it back toward the brush from which he’d come.

I sprinted toward the beast. My sling at the ready, I closed within fifty paces—the closest I dared, even to a beast so old. My left hand pulled a smooth stone from my pouch. I set the sling, and then whirled it twice over my head, snapping it at the end of the last cycle, as a Benjaminite had taught me. The stone flew true, and struck the beast home in the crown of his head, between the eyes. The startled beast dropped the lamb as I loaded another stone. My brother raced toward my left. He shouted at the old lion, drawing it’s anger toward him. The beast took the bait; he charged my brother. Shamah raised his blade and dropped into a stance. He did not need to tell me what to do next.

If I missed, the lion would pounce on Shamah and tear him apart, sword through his heart and all. If I struck true, the beast would fall on my brother’s blade stunned, and the sword would finish him.

My second shot did not miss.

Only the lion did not fall on Shamah.

He whirled on me, instead. I had no time to set another stone. Dropping my sling, I drew the bronze dagger that every shepherd in Israel carried. He pounced on me just as I raised it toward his throat. I had thrown myself back to escape the full onslaught of the beast’s weight. My breath fled as his paws crushed my chest. Even as I gasped beneath his massive bulk, I felt his warm blood gush over my hand and forearm. My dagger had opened his artery. He roared in protest. Shammah finished him with a deep thrust through his skull. With a strength born out of his fear for me, he shoved the dying lion off me with one shove.

“David!” He shouted.

I coughed and gasped again for air. My ribs cried out. Somehow, I took in a breath, then another. The burning in my chest soon dissipated. After several minutes, I could sit up. My ribs no longer protested.

“By El, little brother, I should whip the skin off you, myself, and spare our father the trouble,” Shammah shouted.

“The lamb,” I whispered between coughs. Only by El’s grace could I even do that.

“A lion nearly kills you, and all you can think about is a stupid sheep?”

I made to crawl toward it. His hand gently pressed my sore shoulder. “I’ll see to it.”

As he made off, I lay down again. As I closed my eyes to the afternoon sun, I felt a warmth wash over me that I had never felt before. With it came the strangest sense of peace that I had ever experienced. Was I dying.

“Shepherd my people.”

The voice was little more than a whisper. I opened my eyes, and closed them against the sun’s glare. Shammah was too far away to have whispered. So who did?

What did it mean?

The warmth faded, like dew before the dawn. I felt strength slowly return. The ache of my ribs and sternum, while still excruciating, abated enough for me to sit up with greater confidence. I would soon be able to stand.

Shammah returned. He cradled the lamb across his shoulders. “Here’s your grateful prize, little brother.”

My brother knelt down to me, and then he placed the lamb on my lap. The grateful animal licked my face as I rubbed its neck.

“Your more trouble than your worth,” I muttered.

I looked at my brother. He looked at me as though I had grown six heads and a tail.


“You chaffe at shepherding Father’s flock, and then you risk your life to save one of them.”

“Didn’t you say they’re our family’s wealth?”

He laughed. “Little brother, when I said you were a shepherd with a warrior’s heart, I didn’t know how right I was!”

I tried to stand up. My ribs screamed, and my legs betrayed me.

“Easy, David,” Shammah said, as he rested me on the ground, once more. “I’ll get help. Try not to die or get eaten before I return.”

When he left, I thought again of that voice. While it sounded no more than a whisper, thought I could make out who it was. It sounded like my own, only it wasn’t.

What did it mean?
Well, what do you think?

There's more where this came from, I assure you. Much more.

For the time being, this story will be my principle pursuit. I'll check in here when I can and offer up some more samples for your enjoyment. Thanks for your patience. In the meantime, expect me when you see me!

Symphony of Silence

Morning robin's song,
harmony with the wind chime,
not one distraction.