The Year of the Sheep

Happy Year of the Sheep to you.
My first thought about this year’s animal representative was the line from Haendel’s Messiah that bursts out in one of the choruses “All we like sheep . . .” [listen here] which often sounds to me like ‘Are we like sheep?’ which the bible tells us we are. I notice I am feeling rather sheep-like presently and not in a pleasant, green acres kind of a way . . . but this, too, shall pass. For the time being I am putting the skittish in my heart into the pasture with  the Good Shepherd.
January is an in-between time and I am giving myself time to lie fallow and transition from the Year of the Horse (in some ways I continue to feel as if I am galloping!). Perhaps this transition will only really be complete in February when the academic year here ends and the ‘real’ Chinese New Year on the 19th, comes to pass. I have been reading my journals from the past year and praying with them, seeing if there are any hints, blessings, or signs for the way ahead of which I should be mindful. I am gathering myself to myself, letting the dark be. The world is not patient; I must be, though.
Another image that comes to me when I contemplate the sheep is that of yarn and knitting . . . which is a very comforting and nostalgic and womanly image. Knitting was part of my childhood; it was something I watched women doing and something I was taught quite early on. People wore things made by family members then. I marvel at this making now but then it was just a usual thing.
Some time ago I came upon this beautiful video of the fibre artist Renate Hiller and I became sensitized anew at the things my hands touched.
Reflecting on what Hiller says made me grateful for having grown up with lots of different kinds of animals around me and far less ‘convenience’ than I have now. It makes me aware of why holding a pen (a gift made of the wood of a tree in California) is superior to tapping a plastic keyboard whose innards are slow and need to be replaced (and cannot be without the ‘outtards’, too). This machine I need for my present work in the world, and (we’re programmed to believe) to keep in step with the world at large. But most of all what Hiller expresses is the importance of the making skills, of handwork. Pay attention to the work of your hands. We certainly don’t need more stuff, but there can be no doubt that we need better quality and longer lasting stuff.
May things knit together beautifully for us all this year and may any dropped stitches be mended calmly and well. May your meditations bring you, your actions and the world peace. May your pastures be green and may your trust in the Shepherd be, well, as dilly as a sheep’s.


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