Like most people who grew up in a home where the love of Jesus was preached and the scriptures were adored, I’ve been familiar all my life with the story about the man who had a hundred sheep and lost one.
How anxious he was, that man! He didn’t stop to put his farm in order or hire an interim shepherd. Oh no, he went tearing down the road, the gate banging behind him. He ran through his fields, vaulting all the low fences, and made for the brushy mountains. Somewhere in that puzzling terrain, a small sheep was very lonely, very frightened, and very close to becoming the main course in some wild dog’s dinner.
The man loved all his sheep. Each one had a name he had picked out himself. But as he ran through the dusk with his heart climbing up his throat and his ears full of the yapping of hungry dogs, he knew there was one he loved just a little bit most: the one who was sad and scared and needed him badly.
My offering for you this autumn is a poem I wrote to commemorate the incident that brought this parable all the way home to me at last. The ending isn’t given in the poem, but Sassafras was found. It was I who discovered the tiny curl of her breathing body huddled in a thicket in a dark spot of woods the next morning and oh! Joy.
“And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.”
Luke 15:5 (NIV)
She came out wet and shiny and
she lay on the yellow straw in the barn
dribbling creamy colostrum.
We were overwhelmed.
Look at her we squealed if she
did anything. As the ants came
out of the corners we flicked them
from her wet fur.
At twilight her mother
lost her. The fields were full
of sad bleating, our flashlights
combing the doveweed, and
the so-lonely sound of a name
called with persistence
and no answer coming.
As we lay in our beds the coyotes
seemed to be closing in.
At first light, we slipped out of the house
to be seen by the others,
each a little bashful
about their hope.
Bryana Joy is a writer, poet, and full-time artist who spends most of her time making and mailing the Letters From The Sea Tower, a handmade monthly subscription letter full of watercolor sketches, paintings, and snippets of glory from the Great Books. Bryana has lived in Turkey, Texas, and England, and currently resides in Eastern Pennsylvania with her husband. She enjoys hosting online poetry workshops, and her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in an assortment of literary magazines, including The Christian Century, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Chestnut Review. Bryana takes delight in thunderstorms, loose-leaf tea, green countrysides, and the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.