A Lamb’s Sojourn

Analogy of Christian life. Christ the Good Shepherd who always protects his own.
by Brother Michael Steele, LC | Source:
Between two colossal mountain peaks, in a remote region where only the stout of heart dare venture, lay a gloomy forest. Perpetual fog blanketed the impenetrable canopy of leaves. Within, darkness reigned unending. Moss-covered vines hung low off the ancient branches of massive trees.

The whole place had an evil smell about it, emitting death. A lamb hesitated at the tree line, skittishly darting back and forth, sensing foreboding danger.

Suddenly he felt a staff firmly pushing him into the foul-smelling entrance. He looked back and there was the powerful frame of his shepherd, outlined against the twilight, his eyes flashing with courage and intense strength. His face was set like flint. Together they moved forward into the pitch darkness. It engulfed them.

At once suffocating panic seized the lamb. He tried to bolt, but the crook of the staff caught him neatly round the neck and brought him back to the way. On they trudged through the dark.

Time dragged on until the lamb lost track. Had it been hours, or days? Still the darkness enveloped them. Sometimes the lamb grew so tired that the shepherd would be obliged to lift him onto his broad shoulders and carry him.

As they pushed their way forward, the wool on the lamb’s neck began to prickle. Then he saw them: several pairs of ferocious eyes glowed out from between the branches and rotting undergrowth. Once in a while the dark shape of a massive beast could be seen bounding across the path in front or stealthily slinking alongside, watching, waiting.

Still, on they marched, over fallen trees, through quagmires, and across brooks, the shepherd never looking to the side but always forward.

Gradually the contorted figures of the ash-grey trees loomed more visible in the dimness. They were more than halfway through. The beasts were also more visible and began following closer, desperation making them heedless, their snarls and growls rumbling out from the deep shadows.

At the final brook, the shepherd had stooped to carry the lamb across. The rushing sound of swift paws through dead leaves and the snap of twigs broke the silence. The largest beast was surging forward, leaping into the air, lathered jaws gaping, eyes locked upon that lamb. Then the sound of shattering bones cracked through the forest as its head and forward momentum met in mid-stride the full force of the backhanded blow of the shepherd’s staff. It slumped to the ground, dead.

Another charged, and another, but each one who tried to attack the lamb met the punishing staff of the shepherd. As the air filled with yelps and the ground with carcasses, the rest of the beasts began to draw back, until, as if at an unseen signal, all turned and melted into the darkness from which they had come.

It was over. The shepherd gently hoisted the quaking lamb onto his shoulders, carried him to the valley’s end and let him down in the safety of his own pasture. The shepherd then turned and headed back for another lamb, having to make the same journey.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. […] Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. (Ps 23: 1,4)

Br Michael Steele, of the Legionaries of Christ, studies for the priesthood in Rome. 

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