It’s that time of the (lunar calendar) year again. The sacred days of the sacrifice are upon us. Last year, we started a tradition of buying a sheep to give away to a poor family that we know. One of my love languages is gift giving, and I know that a great gift is something that means something to the receiver, not necessarily the giver. With this philosophy in mind, we give the sheep during the biggest celebration of the year, rather than waiting until our big celebration in December. Otherwise, the family would probably think, “Wow, thanks. We could have really used this a month ago.”
Last night, two sheep arrived at our door (I had ordered two, thinking that we would expand our poor family repertoire by one, but my plan backfired because the other family left the city for the holiday. We ended up giving our original family both of them, saying that if they knew anyone that didn’t have a sacrifice, to give it to them.) As soon as the sheep walked through the gate gate, Lola picked out which one would be hers and named is “Sara”. Charlie named “his” sheep “Shawn” (I’ve since learned that there is a show with a character named Shawn the Sheep. Who knew? Charlie did.) Lola stroked and petted her sheep with such love and tenderness. Immediately, she was cooing soft lovelies into the sheep’s ear and I could see her imagining all sorts of adventures that she would have with “Sara” in the garden (keep in mind that the sacrificial sheep has to be male, so I’m sure he was thrilled by his female moniker). The Mister isn’t one that loves animals, instinctively. There is a reason he’s not a farmer. With great frustration, he got the first sheep down the steps to the lower level of the garden; the second sheep was a snap because the biblical imagery of sheep blindly following one another is actually based on natural fact. Who knew? God knew. At the height of his frustration, The Mister forgot about who was standing next to him, and said to the sheep, “You’ll be dead the day after tomorrow.” Slowly the statement sunk into two very young minds. “What do you mean they will be dead?”
Here we go.
The Mister very kindly told the children about the meaning behind the upcoming celebration. It is in memory of God providing a replacement sacrifice for Abraham’s son (whether it was Ishmael or Isaac is up for debate between Christians and Muslims, but I don’t think it really matters. The point of the story is that God provided a replacement in the face of great obedience.) The kids were horrified to hear that the sheep will both die. Charlie sulked around the house muttering, “It’s as bad to kill animals as humans, you know.” I asked him where he thought beef for hamburgers came from. I’m afraid I might have a budding vegetarian on my hands; Charlie’s sense of justice runs deep. Lola used her pen as her sword, writing love notes to her sheep as best as she could. When she was stuck she asked for help, “I wrote ‘I’m sorry.’ Can you write ‘that you are going to die’?”
This morning, we went out to buy some other things like sugar and oil, and soccer balls, to give along with the sheep. When we returned, The Mister tied up the sheep to get them ready for transport. That’s when Lola fell apart. For some reason, she covered the sheep with dirt and ground it into their fur. She was punished. But even before she was punished, she was delirious with grief, “Please, Mommy. Don’t go up to the mountain! Stay home! I want to stay home with you!” Large tears streaked lines down her cheeks, and her big blue eyes looked up at me with sheer desperation. Her heart was truly breaking for her Sara. After her punishment, I asked her, “Why did you cover the sheep in dirt?” Lola flung herself into my arms and cried, “I don’t know! I wanted them to be warm!” I think she was driven crazy with grief and in her child’s way, didn’t know how to deal with it; she purely wanted to protect her dear sheep friend.
Lola sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.
We drove up the mountain. Her sobs slowly subsided, her brow was still furrowed in worry, but she soon designated herself “sheep watchman”.
She was in this position for almost the entire drive, giving us a moment-by-moment account of each sheep’s actions.
After some tea and fresh bread with our friends, we returned home for lunch (chicken pot pie! Nummers! I love myself sometimes… actually, a lot of the times) Lola took a few bites of her lunch, put down her fork and headed to bed.
I guess she is a lot like her mommy. When life just gets to be too much emotionally, the best thing to do is pull on the eye-mask and sleep it off.
I think that’s actually a good idea for today and I might just join her in dreamland for awhile.
Right after I finish my tea and lemon meringue pie.
Is that not the most amazing meringue you’ve ever seen? Tea’s on. Are you coming over?