STOP!!!! There’s another sheep. . .

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

Daniel 2:21-23

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(a sheep farm on the road to Killarney / Julie Cook / 2015)

STOP THE VAN!!!!
“I can’t get a good shot while we’re moving. . .the sheep isn’t budging, you’re going to hit it!!!!!. ..”

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(a sheep sits contently on the road somewhere in County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

And so was the almost daily drill of the journey.
Stoping and going— for here was a sheep, there was a sheep and everywhere was a sheep sheep. . .

It is the poignant reminder that throughout each of our lives we will, inevitably, find ourselves on our very own and personal road to Damascus.
Wether we are believers or not.

And depending on our own perspective, it is either joyfully or frustratingly that most of us will end up on that same road over and over again, throughout our lives, as it often seems to take more than one chance encounter for things to truly sink in.

It is a road that we ourselves have each personally carved. A road that initially appears to be leading us in the direction of our thoughts, dreams and sights. . .a course that we perhaps set long ago, affording the opportunity of venturing forth, moving forward, as we seek our supposed heart’s desire…

Yet, if the truth be told, it is a road of destiny complete with the blinding encounter so often necessary to realign a misguided path. It’s just that for some of us, we need a constant stream of “encounters” before we finally “get it” and allow things to finally sink in…

Be it mere happenstance or Divine Intervention, we are struck, knocked upside the head and thrown to the ground, blinded and overwhelmed by whatever it is that is necessary in order to get our attention, change our course, wake us up, turn us around while eventually leading us to our true and proper path.

And so this journey was not really different from any other…

Setting off I had hoped, anticipated and even expected… something—but as to what that something was, it was not clear. . .

There were the sheep…

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Those symbolic, innocent yet oddly mentally challenged creatures that have always spoken to my heart.
Gazing out the window, with my head resting on the glass, I stare mindlessly at the myriad sea of gently grazing animals as familiar words whispered through my thoughts…

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Luke 15: 1-7

Yet this idyllic gentle image, laced with with its warm sense of safety, peace and security, was suddenly jarred apart by the blinding image of sacrifice and suffering that punctuated the seemingly pastoral image of serenity with the mysterious utterance of a long ago vision which poured itself out upon my thoughts like the deeply crimson colored blood oozing from a fresh cut. . .

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,

nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Isaish 53: 7-9

At some point there was a wistful private reflection spoken aloud by simple habit as we all gazed upon a mysterious landscape… “how could any of this be seen as the mere happenstance of the collision of random particles…”

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(Lady’s View over the Ring of Kerry, County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(Somewhere along the Dingle peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(somewhere along the road in County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I came seeking the wisdom buried deep in the past of what was as I strained to hear the ancient voices that lay hidden below my feet. . .

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(an unknown grave marker / Julie Cook / 2015)

Delightful to me to be on an island hill, on the crest of a rock,
that I might often watch the quiet sea;

That I might watch the heavy waves above the bright water,
as they chant music to their Father everlastingly.

That I might watch its smooth, bright-bordered shore, no
gloomy pastime, that I might hear the cry of the strange birds,
a pleasing sound;

That I might hear the murmur of the long waves against the
rocks, that I might hear the sound of the sea, like mourning
beside a grave;

That I might watch the splendid flocks of birds over the well-
watered sea, that I might see its mighty whales, the greatest wonder.

That I might watch its ebb and flood in their course,
that my name should be–it is a secret that I tell–“he
who turned his back upon Ireland;”

That I might have a contrite heart as I watch,
that I might repent my many sins, hard to tell;

That I might bless the Lord who rules all things,
heaven with its splendid host, earth, ebb, and flood…

Poem attributed to St Columcille (521-597 AD)

Yet it was late, when it was all almost over, with so much having been said and done, seen and savored…
Three spoken words resonated more deeply than any other morsel offered previously to my weary and worn five senses. . .

Be at Peace. . .”

And so, having fallen from my horse, stuck blind and confused—the clarity of something and someone so much more than myself has come clearly into focus—the scales having been removed from my eyes– and for the first time in what has been a lifetime, I can see…

And so it is…

“Be At Peace”

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(a sheep gazes out over the Atlantic among the cliffs of County Donegal / Julie Cook / 2015)

21 comments on “STOP!!!! There’s another sheep. . .

  1. Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging and commented:
    Excellent piece…loved it!

  2. Tricia says:

    Lovely post Julie and as usual, stunning photos. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone down the same dead end roads in my life, only to be patiently steered away by a loving God, who knows I will attempt those roads again. Nice to see that process expressed the n your post. Side note,I adore sheep as well, very interesting animals. 🙂

  3. ColorStorm says:

    Jewels! Your return has come like daylight. Agree with trish, awesome pics, and it appears a superb vacay-

    You hit on the fine points of life; the sheep, the Creator, our weakness, His strength. The valleys, the hills, the ups and downs. Just perfect.

    Btw, love that lone sheep ‘by the wayside…………’ it’s you, it’s me, it’s others, alone is good, and good to see it in the fold 😉

    Here’s hoping the best in the next chapter……….

  4. David says:

    Good to have you back Julie. So many sheep in Ireland, but just three words. Three words we all need to hear.

  5. Melissa McCain says:

    Ahhhh!! Miss those sheep!!! Lovely time for sure!!’n

  6. Lynda says:

    Julie, I’ve been looking every day since the beginning of last week to see whether you had returned. It is wonderful to have you back. Thanks for the beautiful photos and the words you have shared. I find it interesting that the Lord gave you three words “Be at peace!” as God has also given me three words, quite frequently I might add, “Rest in me!” Three words for each of us and great power within them if we only do what they suggest! Blessings and prayers.

    • Thank you Lynda for your words of welcome and love–I’ve sent you an email as a reply here regarding the adventure would be entirely too lengthy–not sure if it’s good to be home as a piece of my heart has remained there in Ireland–waiting on my return 🙂

  7. Beautiful pictures. I love the west of Ireland with its slower pace. I seem to breathe in deeper and slow down once I cross the Shannon. I’m glad your trip was restorative. Looking forward to reading more now you’re back.

  8. Nicodemas says:

    Just wonderful! I love the photos, narrative, and poem. So very beautiful. You’re right the creation is clear and wonderful proof of the existence of God. (Romans 1) Well Ireland was on my list to see and this made it even more so – for other countries #1 now.

  9. Sarah says:

    Beautiful. Your writing and the images and quotes you pick are always so evocative for me. Thank you.
    Ireland is a very special place, and I can say that without being partisan because I’m not a native. I’m just lucky enough to live here. It’s hard to explain but the sacred seems more accessible here. The landscape is just so powerful here in the West. Did you make it to Connemara at all? As you intimated, it is hard to deny God when you stand in these wild places. Moving here kicked off my conversion. It was a long process but I’m not sure it could have happened at all back in the U.K.

    I hope you get to come back soon.
    God bless you.

    • thank you for the kind words—yes we went to Connemara—we started in Dublin, down to Kinsale, over to Killarney, Dingle, Galway, Donegal—all over as Paul, our guide wanted us to see as much and everything and place as possible—even up to Gelncolumcille—
      my entire perspective changed with the blog upon my arrival home as I felt an urgency to share and proclaim the Gospel—as hard as some of it is as this generation and this world does not tolerate hard truth—they want the santa claus God of love—not the God who also set down rules and parameters….
      I think I would want to live near Dingle although that is a hard call as I felt so at home in so many different spots—but Ireland has called my name—and my roots are there…and I find myself pining to run there and hide away as it were as life here in the US grows ever more angry and violent….

      • Sarah says:

        Wow, you really got about! I’m so glad you got the chance to see Connemara. There are two sides to Ireland’s beauty which are epitomised by Kerry and Connemara. Often people only get to see one of them.
        I’m so glad you were inspired to change the thrust of your blog. I’m really enjoying your posts. They are inspiring and affirming. I wrote in a recent post that I’d thought about shutting down my blog to focus on promoting the Christian message but writing is not my thing and I decided that other people were already doing it better than I ever could. Your blog is a good case in point. I find it easier to communicate using my drawings, so I decided to keep the art blog and use the art to spread the Good News instead (although the words keep creeping in too 🙂 ).
        I don’t want to pour cold water on your dream but things are not perfect in Ireland either. I wouldn’t want you to move here and be disillusioned. The people are losing the faith, and capitalist secular values are taking over. The cities can be violent; Limerick is known as “Stab City”. There is a big problem with gangs and drugs. Having said all that, I hope you get the chance to move here. I’m sure you could find a peaceful corner to settle in and nourish your soul. The faithful here could do with your help to spread God’s word amongst the lost sheep. And I’d love an excuse to visit Dingle again. 😉

      • 😇 only time will tell regarding a dream– I know no place is perfect and like mainland Europe, secularization is taking a firm hold in Ireland– as do the drugs and the violence — so we shall see– Just know I throughly enjoy getting lost in your work Sarah– blessings to you from Georgia — julie

      • Sarah says:

        Yes, only time will tell. 🙂 We never know where life will take us.
        Thank you for all of your kindness. It means a lot.

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