Don’t know about you, but with all the voices in our world that are clamoring for our attention these days, I’m finding it harder and harder to find my way through the din of noise. Even the joy of singing in my church choir was getting drowned out by all the Covid 19 restriction noise——”Wear a mask, keep your distance and only sing virtually, blared in my head above the beauty of the music and experience for me. So, when a friend asked if I’d seen the “peaceful” goats grazing near her home, I took pause. “Yes” I said, “and they are a beautiful sight to see.” Unfortunately, it had been on the way to the emergency hospital with my ailing husband, so of course we hadn’t been able to enjoy the sight.

Later that week, however, while pondering my friend’s observance, memories came to mind of my own experiences with goats and sheep. Many years back, we lived near a large patch of empty land. Often times sheep would graze there and we were able to observe them from across the street. Then, a few years after moving to a new house, an artist friend invited me to go with her to photograph some sheep in a nearby town. She’d gotten permission from the shepherd for us to walk among the sheep at lambing time as they grazed on the hillsides. My friend was doing research on a painting project of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and she needed some good photo references of lambs. As it turned out, I also gained some eye-opening, or should I say ear-opening information that day too.

Walking close beside the sheep brought a new revelation as I heard their bleating calls. It struck me that each sheep had a different voice much the same as people do. Some sheep had higher pitched voices (like sopranos) and others had low, or alto/base voices. And when one of the adult sheep, a mama sheep no doubt, started bleating over and over, her little lamb recognized its mother’s voice and went running up the hill to have lunch (nurse). That is when it truly sunk-in as to what Jesus was talking about when he said: “My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow me,” (John 10:27). I realized, then, that sheep do recognize different voices, because they too have unique voices.

So, as I reflect back on that experience and apply its principal today, it seems the best thing I can do is keep my ears tuned to my Shepherd’s voice (Jesus) and not let the clamoring noise of many other voices gain my attention. Not let those voices “kill, steal and destroy” my joy.

Iris Carignan