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Monday, August 28, 2006

A Barnyard Tale

Once upon a time, three little sheep wondered into a barnyard. There were other sheep in the barnyard, as well as some goats and chickens and such. Many of the sheep gathered around these strangers. Strangers are interesing and fun. New friends are fun. "The more, the merrier," some of the sheep uttered, and welcomed the new sheep into the flock. Each time they saw them, they would say, "Co-ome with u-u-us! We lo-o-o-ove youuuu!"

One of the new sheep thought this was wonderful! "At last," she thought, "these others are like me, and they love me." With that, she kicked up her heels and bounced off into the flock and dissappeared.

The second sheep thought this group of sheep was peculiar. For weeks, while settling into the barnyard, and finding comfort in the new surroundings, and developing trust for the farmer, the old sheep would say, "Come eat with us!" While she appreciated the offer, she wasn't quite comfortable yet, and she said, "Not today, I have other plans." The very next week, the old sheep would say, "Come eat with us!" Although she wanted to, she still wasn't quite ready, and she said with a kind smile, "Not today, I have other obligations." After several weeks, the old sheep went back to inviting one another to eat. They were friendly to the new sheep, but they stopped asking her to eat. This little sheep, having become comfortable in the barnyard, having come to trust the farmer, and having become quite fond of the other sheep was determined to become one with them, and reminded them to ask her again.

The third sheep had never met such peculiar sheep. She had met some goats that pretended to be sheep, and even met a wolf once who looked and acted like a sheep. But she thought that she was a smart sheep, and she bleeted seldom, and offered little encouragement to their advances. She was afraid, maybe that they would not like her after the novelty wore off. She may have been worried that they were not the sheep they pretended to be, so she stood back and waited for the truth to be revealed. She was not mean, she just wanted to get comfortable in this new barnyard and test their motives to see if they were good, and safe. They would say, "Come eat with us!" She just was not sure what they were eating; if they were wolves under those curly locks, it might just be her! Why else would they want to eat with her? So she would smile politely and say, "Not today, I have to run to that yonder tree and pick a flower for my mother." The next time they saw her, they would say, "Come eat with us!" Still not sure whether it was safe, she would say, "Not today, I have to go to the stream and wash my shoes."

They would sometimes ask her to run with them in the meadow, but she was always busy. Soon she began to become more comfortable in the barnyard. She knew where everything was, and she was used to the farmer, and his words. She knew all the sheep by name and they all knew her. She had become quietly fond of some of the other sheep.

But they had stopped asking. When her mother made her go to the meadow, they didn't talk to her. When they gathered in the barnyard and the farmer talked to them, they pretended she wasn't there.

They always knew she was a little different after all. They have been in this barnyard since birth. They rode on the farmer's shoulder when they were young and couldn't find their way back from the meadow. This little sheep was different. If she were like them, she would bleet joyfully like them. If she were like them, she would want to eat with them. If she were like them, she would kick up her heels like them. If she were like them, she would want to run in the meadow like them. If she were like them, she would remember when they rode on the farmers shoulder when they were young and couldn't find their way back from the meadow. She is obviously not like them.

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