Once upon a time . . .
Once upon a time (unlike the fairy tales this is a true story) in a previous life I ‘volunteered’ to spend a day working with a shepherd. Long story. Nevertheless I was up at the crack of dawn and spent twelve hours in atrocious weather conditions, climbing and descending hills, crossing rivers and sploshing – not sure if that is a word but it’s an apt description – through marshy terrain. I was exhausted afterwards and couldn’t walk for a week but it was one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve had. Of course it was only a taster to what these men and women do all the time but since my stint I have great admiration for them.
Shepherds are mentioned in the Christmas story. Indeed they are the first to witness this birth, which changed the world. At that time workers in the fields were classed as the lowest of the low – often shunned by the ‘respectable’ as being unkempt and unclean. I certainly was on my day; but they are the first to hear the news, not the intellectuals or the people in power, or the ‘celebrities,’ of the day. We are all important in the sight of God but I sometimes think the marginalized are more so; which can be rightly summed up in a modern parable:
A doctor, a lawyer, a little boy and a priest were out for a Sunday afternoon flight on a small private plane. Suddenly, the plane developed engine trouble. In spite of the best efforts of the pilot, the plane started to go down. Finally, the pilot grabbed a parachute and yelled to the passengers that they better jump, and he himself bailed out. Unfortunately, there were only three parachutes remaining.
The doctor grabbed one and said “I’m a doctor, I save lives, so I must live,” and jumped out.
The lawyer then said, “I’m a lawyer and lawyers are the smartest people in the world. I deserve to live.” He also grabbed a parachute and jumped.
The priest looked at the little boy and said, “My son, I’ve lived a long and full life. You are young and have your whole life ahead of you. Take the last parachute and live in peace.”
The little boy handed the parachute back to the priest and said, “Not to worry Father. The smartest man in the world just took off with my back-pack.”
Our jobs should never define us but being a good human being should