The Gentle Art of Killing Sheep

No, really. That is the title of this blog post as well as the title of a poem. I would like to explain why this title is as is. Now remember that in the last blog post I said that not all of these blogs may make sense. I am a poet, not a logician and while logic can help every human understand simple things, logic still doesn’t make life fair or explain why the powers in heaven do what they do.

Take Job for example. He’s a good man. He does what is right, he offers sacrifices, he raises a thick quiver of arrows (family), has a wife he loves, but more importantly he is very rich as a result of his obedience to God. Satan, that spirit of dark thoughts, observes Job’s success then enters God’s presence to complain about what he believes is Job’s pretentious and hollow attitude towards God.

“Job only loves you because you bless him with material wealth.” the devil says with a quivering, accusing finger.

God, as any good, loving and logical God would do, listens to the Devils garbage arguments/rhetoric and allows the Devil to destroy every area of Jobs success: wealth, family, and health. Its awful really. Too awful to describe or imagine. Go read Job to refresh anew the nuances of this tragedy. Job’s faith is strong enough, however, and he endures suffering and pain like a champ with a just a speck of complaint. (chapter 3)

The complaint was for Job to ask God why. Why was he born? Why was he, a righteous man, down-trodden by God? Why live? This misery is too great. Apparently asking why is the wrong question because God never answers but in return asks Job many questions that had nothing to do with Jobs current situation. (chapters 38-41) Questions like ” where were you when I made the earth?” or “Do you understand movements of the stars and seas?” or ” Animals! Do you even get why they do what they do and how they survive?”.

God finally finishes wrenching on Job’s brain, stands back, dusts off his hips, and walks away with out explaining why Job had to endure losing everything to begin with. Job didn’t resent God, in fact his peace and faith were strengthened though the tragedy and after-words he regained all that he lost plus more. My point is that logic states that 1+1 is 2, but logic doesn’t explain why 1+1 is 2 and much less explain who God is. Logic never accounts for why 1+1 = 0 sometimes. Why do humans, who honor God, still endure terrible curcumstances in their life? Maybe human logic is not meant to grasp God and why terrible things happen.

I digress slightly and we haven’t even gotten to the gentle art of killing sheep. Read this poem. Oh and by they way, this poem was videoed and uploaded to The Curator which is a blog I help edit and for which I provide photographs.

The Gentle Art of Killing Sheep

To fall is to understand,
Because falling entails death
or worse, severe pain,
Dependent, of course, on how far you
Have plunged from the grace of clinging.

Imagine then, climbing a white painted steeple
towards the morning sun.
There, beneath the shadows of the church
lie the grey sheep, content,
troubled only by tiny silent storm
that break upon their souls as they graze the dew.

And thus you fall in a sudden manner, 
Your hair and limbs screaming in the fray,
Back, down to the ground
that bears death
In her bosom of stone.

But when you have climbed too far,
your hand does not grasp as it should have
Or your foot fumbles beneath you

A mere half breath before 
The supple earth
Should Crush your spine 
And spirit;

In some providential and oddly 
cruel interjection,
you light upon a ewe instead;
and no storms shall break upon
her soul no more.

Christ is like that sheep.
You grunt and roll off his crushed, broken body
Surprised that death was not present
to understand your falling with you. 

So you grunt, dust your hips
and wonder, and understand
the gentle art killing sheep.

Approach this poem like a story. The first stanza is very important to the whole of the poem because the first stanza is a thesis that introduces and sums up the whole of the poem. To put it into simple language the first stanza acknowledges that falling brings understanding. If you fall you will hurt yourself. It is best to stay on your feet. If you fall from too high of a location, you will die! It is therefor best to not fall from very high places but to cling tightly to whatever is at hand. Children would not be alive any more if they had never fallen off a chair or couch and felt the pain of falling and understood that if they climb they must hold on tightly or feel pain or even die. Falling is understanding. Its logical.

The rest of the poem explains the thesis by telling a story. Imagine you are climbing a steeple for any good reason. Below you is the stony ground and a flock of sheep grazing in the shadow of the steeple. When you reach a certain point, for some reason, you miss your foot hold and suddenly you are falling back down to the ground screaming and understanding that you have climbed too far, you have slipped and now you will die.

But you land on a sheep instead. The ewe dies, and you live.

And if that was not enough of a plot twist ….. Christ is like that sheep! Yes! Just as you were saved physically from death by falling on a sheep, in the same way the Lamb of God saved your soul by positioning himself on a cross for you, taking the full weight of your sin. You landed on God with a black, devastating heaviness and killed him. He dies, you live. Amen.

What does killing sheep have to do with Job and logic and why is it all a gentle art? Often it seems that people force the subject of the existence of pain as evidence that God is not good or that he does not exist. It seems illogical that a good God allows pain. I understand. It does seems that way.

But people also never stand back in wonder of how illogical love is. The greatest example of love is the advent of Christ. Yet, for God to die for us, he had to endure pain. God understood what it meant to fall. For Christ to be born assumed that an all-knowing God would understand that his birth would cause his eventual suffering and death at the hands of His humans. God understood what was involved in creating humans with free will. They could choose to hate him, blame him, spit on him, crucify him etc. But God loves us despite this.

This doesn’t make sense does it? If God is illogical for allowing evil, then he is just as illogical for loving despite that evil that he allows. I suppose you could attack this question from a different perspective: If God is evil ( because he allows evil things to happen) then how could a an evil God allow love to exist?

You could say that Job fell and that he felt keenly the pain of that falling. When he asked God why he fell, God didn’t answer because the falling nor the resulting pain mattered much. Life is not fair to any of us. Why should we assume that God must provide answers for why He allowed a terrible thing to happen? We don’t need the why. After tragedy, what mattered most is that God was still good and that God had always loved Job despite any evil. God’s unanswerable questions were meant to enlighten Job and proved just how wonderful He is. This isn’t logical, but I can sympathize with why Job felt at peace even though his question was never answered.

Is a terrible circumstance burning a hole in your life?

The gentle art, in all tragedies, is finding peace and gratefulness towards God.

2 thoughts on “The Gentle Art of Killing Sheep

  1. I just read this again in the aftermath of a small emotional crisis. I am definitely falling from that steeple and yeah. Basically, thanks for this blog post. It turned the back in the direction it should be pointed.




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