‘I always hate this part of the job, an ear or half eaten leg rescued for what, just to prove it was the lion not me that killed the lamb. Just to prove I hadn’t thrown it in the pot to improve the watery vegetable stew.’ David mumbled to himself as he tossed the carcass of the lion aside, for the pride to come and claim in the darkness of the night. ‘As if I would kill a lamb, I know what would happen to me if I did, I would be no better off than these bits of flesh and bone and blood.’
David walked towards the river to wash his hands and collect more pebbles for his sling, the pieces of lamb now wrapped in a sheet of linen. ‘If only things were different, if only lambs and lions would live together in peace.’
The dusk was starting to close in and David had spent the whole afternoon tracking down the lost lamb; now he made his way back to where he had left the rest of his flock safely grazing. Rounding them up the linen cloth tied over his shoulder he started to lead them towards the fire and the corral where the other shepherds had gathered for the evening meal their flocks safely gathered in.
As he draw nearer he saw the oldest of the shepherds lean forward and stir the pot. There hadn’t seemed a day in history that he hadn’t joined shepherds round their fire, every father and grandfather had spoken to and of him, yet he still didn’t seem much older than David himself. Each evening he was there as they gathered for the meal talking to and encouraging them but he was always gone by the morning. He never brought any sheep to join the others in the corral instead he always talked as if all the flocks belonged to him. The strangest thing was that when he stirred the pot the poor vegetable stew always tasted somehow better, richer, good enough to grace a king’s wedding banqueting table.
He looked up as David placed the linen blood stained cloth down on a stone slab a little way from the fire. ” Another day another dead lamb”, David said, as he saw a tear form in the Shepherds eye. Each lamb, each ewe, each ram seemed to mean so much to him, for him one lamb lost was one lamb to many.
He rose and gave David’s arm a reassuring touch, ‘Tomorrow will be different’, he said.
And then he did something he had never done before and walked into the dark towards Bethlehem.