I’ve done some farm work over the years but helping out on my friend David’s farm was a religious lesson. David was one of those rarities who saw all activities as spiritual – sometimes annoyingly so, sometimes amusingly.
Having got his mob into a pen, he would announce: “Now my girls, it’s time to enter through the narrow gate,” making one of his oft quoted biblical references. Should one of the ewes breach his flimsy fencing, he warned: “And if any of you jump out I’ll be sending Angel [the Kelpie] after you.” He saw the fences as the ‘Law of the Lord,’ and should any be tempted by the thought of freedom – a false notion – he would send ‘Angel’ to round them up.
Crotching was the worst; both for me and for the lambs. Lifting sheep onto the machine was back-breaking and the blood and pained bleating was unpleasant. David as always was philosophical and explained the obvious: that pain is necessary to save them from the agonizing death that comes with being fly-blown, “Just as the Good Lord allows us all to experience pain, that we may become purified and stronger.” For me, pain was something I could happily go without.
But, what does this have to do with Halloween….. the ‘Holy Eve’, the celebration of the holy ones who have passed on and reside in the Presence of their Father, after whom we often say: “Hallowed be Thy Name”?
At the end of that day of crotching, friend or not, I knew David would offer some bartered-system recompense, which was a system that many in my circle used. I was expecting payment in the form of a bag of lupins or wheat for that was common, or else some feed for my own goats and chickens. That day he announced – even though it was not October 31 – that: “It’s Halloween, mate. Tomorrow I’ll be sending one of the ‘girls’ off to Sheep Heaven. Come by next Thursday and I’ll have a juicy leg and a forequarter for you.”
November is the month given over to remembering the Saints and to seeking their intercession for many of life’s circumstances. John’s Book of Revelation, for one, is replete with the Saints who, in their earthly life, obeyed the call of The Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who guided them to life eternal.
They cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”