By Joan Clayton: Religion Columnist
I believe animals are gifts from God and where would we be without them? I am always amazed when I read Genesis 2:19. God formed all the animals and brought them to Adam for a name and whatever he named them that was the name.
Living near the edge of town has brought many exciting animal adventures through the years. I can’t count the episodes with dogs and one special cat, but that goes along with boys, but I never in my wildest dreams thought we would come across other animals.
When we first moved in our new house we heard coyotes throughout the nights and early mornings. It felt kind of eerie to me with all those lonesome sounds but our young sons loved it and would have liked to pet a few.
We all came home from school one day and found a monkey in our tallest tree. The boys went bonkers, including my husband. They tried to catch the monkey and when he jumped from the tree to the roof on our house they climbed up a ladder only to see the monkey jump back to the tree. Thankfully, the monkey jumped down and ran to a pasture across the road and climbed up a huge cottonwood tree. I gave a sigh of relief. With three lively boys and one grownup man, I had enough “monkey business” going on!
One morning we found a skunk’s tail caught in the clutches of our chain link fence. “Biscuits,” our dog had quite a night.
One Easter, we bought the boys two real live rabbits. They loved holding their soft fur and felt sorry they had to be in a cage. So they convinced me they would be safe inside the fence. Not long after that, it rained rabbits one night because when we looked out the window, baby rabbits were everywhere. As they grew, one by one they disappeared to who knows where? A neighbor found some in her garage. We never bought rabbits again.
I went out to get the paper one evening and I noticed my cat looking frightened at something. I looked to see what the cat saw…a beautiful deer. She had bedded down in the bushes behind some trees in the corner of our yard. Those beautiful big eyes and the white tail on her sleek, fat body took my breath away. She saw me but she didn’t move.
I quietly walked backward out of sight and ran to Emmitt in the back yard. “There’s a deer in our front yard.”
“Sure,” he said, “and it’s made of cement!”
“No, I’m telling you there’s a real deer in the front yard.”
Finally I convinced him to at least come and see what kind of tale he thought I had made up.
“Wow! What a beauty! I never would have thought it!”
Yet when the deer saw him she became frightened and made a big graceful leap over the bushes running toward the country. I often wondered what that motorist thought as that lovely deer ran across the road.
My favorite of all our animal experiences happened at dusk one night. We heard little “clap,clap, claps” on our front porch. It sounded like children’s feet. Emmitt turned on the porch light to see seven little sheep, all in a row. They looked at him with longing eyes. They seemed to say,
“We are little lost sheep. Will you please help us?”
Emmitt opened the gate to the backyard and safely enclosed those cute little balls of wool until he could find the owner. Emmitt, unknowingly, became their shepherd for a while. The sheep followed him around wherever he went, displaying their trust and dependence.
Without a shepherd, sheep are in danger.
Without The Good Shepherd, so am I.