Early one morning, I began reading Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey by Margaret Feinberg. I had just made a cup of coffee and anticipated reading just a few pages. However, I found it very difficult to put the book down.
In the book, Feinberg recognizes that the daily life described in the Bible is very different from her own in the suburbs. Consequently, many of the stories of the Bible speak of the produce of the land, the vineyards, or the sheep and the shepherd. She decided to pay attention to the portraits of God that use these images and try to better understand their significance.
This book begins with Margaret’s visit to a shepherd’s home in Oregon. This is the section I had difficulty putting down. Margaret’s interaction with this shepherd caused me to think in fresh ways about the shepherd/sheep relationship.
The following is an excerpt:
On the way back to the larger, lower pasture, Lynne grabbed another scoop of grain. Opening the gate, she once again called, “Sheep, sheep, sheep.” We sat on the grass as the flock pushed toward us en masse, hoping for a tasty morsel. As the food dwindled, my friend Mario remained. A few others stood by as I scratched each in turn under the chin.
The sun dipped below the fiery horizon, leaving a faint glow of rose and tangerine in the sky. Lynne and I sat in the field with the sheep. At one point, the smallest lamb, Swan, who had watched us all day, dared to break from her mother and head toward Lynne. The shepherd extended her palm, wiggled her fingers, and spoke the lamb’s name. Swan hesitated and then came forward to experience the gentle touch of her shepherd for the first time.
Lynne withdrew her hand. Swan stepped forward, wanting more. With a swift one-armed move, Lynne grabbed the lamb and held her. Swan melted into her shepherd’s arms.
“Once they respond to my beckoning I have them forever,” she said as Swan rested her tiny head in the palm of Lynne’s hand.
Lynne sounded a lot like Someone I’d been reading about.