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The Herd

Posted Saturday, February 4, 2012, at 12:37 PM

The Herd

By Rayla Stewart Hogue

Special to the Daily Statesman

The winter sun was doing its best to break through the clouds with sunspots dappling pasture. Finding a warm sun beam she lay down to rest and soak in the liquid sunshine. She had been standing all day and it felt so good to rest.

The rest of the herd was nearby. Some were at the hay feeder; some grazing nearby; all within a fairly close radius. The gentle sounds of their munching, the swishing of tails was comforting--a reminder of the closeness of the herd while not being in surrounded by the herd.

Sometimes the herd got on her nerves. The pressure to follow the same path, share the same experiences, always being part of the group could be daunting. There were times when she just wanted to go a different way just to get away from everyone else.

Of course there was safety in the herd. The day the mountain lion slunk through, hunting, stalking them. It had crept too close before they sensed its presence. Their boy had come through the woods looking for them, startling the cougar so that it ran. They had been relieved that it ran dissolved into the distance trees, leaving them alone. That was one time when she was grateful to have the entire herd around her.

Today though, as the sun soaked into her bones, she simply wanted time alone . . . to enjoy solitude . . . to doze . . . to dream; deep summer grass ticking her belly; running across the rolling prairie; the sound of hooves pawing the earth.

She could feel the hooves striking the earth . . . OW! It felt like someone was tap dancing on her hip. OW! There it was again. No, someone was pelting her with . . . opening her eyes she saw her sister's hooves tap dancing on her hip. GO AWAY! I'M TAKING A NAP! GEORGIA, IF I GET UP FROM HERE I'M GOING TO . . .

Huh, Georgia wheeled around behind her as Scooter nipped her and ran off. Corky was about to settle down to continue her nap when clods of dirt hit her and she swore she could hear Georgia whinny in glee as she sped off to chase Scooter . . . Whisky and Flash took up the pursuit. Mister blew past here, joining the game as the rest of the herd frolicked in the winter sun.

Solitude . . . peace and quiet at last! She lifted her head wearily to watch them run and kick as they crossed the pasture. Challenging one another to greater strides . . . greater speeds . . . daring feats of acrobatic moves . . . rising in one swift movement she found her hooves and bounded across the pasture after them. "My grandma could beat you with a quarter mile start . . . I'll show you . . . ."

Watching the herd stream across the pasture she could feel the joy they shared at being together. They had their disagreements. Sometimes they jockeying for position within the herd. However, they often would stand side by side, each watching out for the other, swishing flies off each other, drawing strength, warmth, comfort, and love from one another.

We really aren't that different. Even as we protest that we want to be alone; we don't need others; we march to our own drummers . . . relationships just bring pain. However we need the touch, the caress, the comfort of relationship.

Actually, we are never alone. No matter where we are . . . no matter what path we choose . . . no matter how much we might protest . . . God is always there with us, for us, protecting us. God waits for us--gently, lovingly making God's self known to us; waiting to surround us in love.

God, we often turn our own way. We try for self-sufficiency when you have all our needs met if we will only acknowledge you. Help us to understand that it all right to take time to be alone; to listen; to think. However, we also know that you created us to commune with you. Through the support of our brothers and sisters who also follow your ways strengthen and bring comfort to us so that we may in turn share your love in return. So be it. Amen.

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From My Heart to Yours
Rayla Stewart Hogue
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Rayla Stewart Hogue is a native of Dexter. She is a wife, mother, and minister of the UCC (United Church of Christ). She seeks to recognize and embrace the unending hues of God's ethne and religion, and commits herself to living and expressing this inclusive diversity through Sacrament and the spoken, written, and sung Word of God.
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