"I am the good shepherd;
I know my own
and my own know me,
just as the Father knows me
and I know the Father;
and I lay down my life for my sheep.
And there are other sheep I have
that are not of this fold,
and these I have to lead as well.
They too will listen to my voice,
and there will be only one flock,
and one shepherd."
John 10: 12-13
Today we were removing what was left of the dead elm at the bottom of the pasture. My husband splitting the larger pieces for us to carry away the great weight; the years of eating star light, of bending through the storms and every shade of breeze, ice and frosts and the terrible cold, but also, the seasons of bird songs and leafy singing beneath the scuttling clouds and shifting stars. My two daughters and I lifting the great tree off the damp spring earth in pieces, hoisting them onto the truck bed.
We gathered as a family to carry away the old elm in the softness of our hands; our effort a small circle beneath the tonnage of living trees; hauling the buckled tree, log by log, to arrange in piles.
We were each doing a part of the necessary labor that was upon our backs the whole of an afternoon, as breezes picked up from the east then lay back down over our stooping low and rising, stooping low and rising: a kind of dancing in the sanctuary of the field.
While the dusk was deepening around the lit brush piled high
and the blaze was howling its hot breath
toward the farthest stars in a darkening sky,
the ashes began floating over us
like a dominion of pale moths
around a diminishing light.
May we labor together to arrange this fibrous transformation of light and time spinning into fire, unwinding in our cold and dark that comes and goes.
May we pray the Lord transform our seasoned strongholds of self, warming by the heat of Him lighting the kindling of our surrendering: to help us carry away unkindness and corruption wherever we find it; the noise that drones out His voice over the waves of light within.