Lynne had enjoyed knitting for many years before deciding she wanted to spin her own yarn. Her husband, Tom, challenged her to go one step further and raise an animal that could provide the raw fiber for her knitting. Starting with a pair of fiber goats, she eventually switched to sheep. She had a special breed in mind, which weren't readily available. Lynne found a farm in Michigan that sold the sought-after-but-hard-to-find Shetland sheep. She ordered three.
"My first sheep were mailed to me sight unseen nearly 20 years ago," Lynne told me. "Looking back, I didn't know how to do basic things like trim hooves or give shots, so I had to call the vet for almost anything and everything. Over time, I picked up new skills. When it's midnight and your sheep is having an abnormal labor and the vet can't make it over, you learn how to get the lamb out. A bunch of years go by and you end up being 65 years old and having a lot of young shepherds calling and asking, 'What do I do?' You wake up one morning and realize you're a shepherd of shepherds."
As we followed the trail to the lower pasture, Lynne introduced me to particular sheep. "That's Opal," she said, pointing to a silvery ewe. "She's a great mother, though this year she's more possessive of her lamb. This is Iris. She is self-controlled and goes her own way. That's Jovita; she's just the sweetest. Dove, who had a difficult pregnancy, abandoned her, but Iris adopted her. Love that Iris. There's a lot of flock drama, you know."
I didn't know, but I was quickly learning. Sheep and people have more in common than I ever dreamed.
I noticed a tiny ewe lamb the color of fresh snow. I wanted to cuddle the lovable baby lamb, but its protective mother, Opal, intentionally kept it away from the other sheep—and us. At one point, the small lamb, Swan, dared to break away from her mother and head toward Lynne. The shepherd extended her hand palm, wiggled her fingers, and spoke the lamb's name. Swan hesitated and then came forward to experience the gentle touch of her shepherd for the first time.
Lynne withdrew her hand. Swan stepped forward, wanting more. With a swift one-armed move, Lynne grabbed the lamb and held her. Swan melted into her shepherd's arms.
"Once they respond to my beckoning, I have them forever," she said as Swan rested her tiny head in the palm of Lynne's hand.
Lynne sounded a lot like Someone I'd been reading about.
Adapted by permission, Zondervan, copyright 2009, all rights reserved.
Copyright © 2009 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Scouting the Divine is available at ChristianBook.com and other book retailers.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.