Thursday, July 4, 2013

Your Neighbor’s Ox

    Sometimes we let the sheep come up from the farm to our
    backyard to mow the grass on the hillside behind our house.
    We do not use chemicals on our grass, so it's very good eating.
    The little electric fence behind which they're confined is
    something they'd go right through if a predator threatened them.

What would happen if we all caught this disease of being neighborly and kind to one another?
by Charlie Leck
“You shall not watch your neighbor’s ox or sheep straying away and ignore them; you shall take them back to their owner.” (Deuteronomy 22:1)

I was attracted to this piece of scripture that came this week from Sojourners. I guess it has to do with all the sheep we keep around here. It reminds me of a middle of the night call we received during the late-winter before this past one. It was about 3 a.m.. I answered the ringing phone by our bedside.

“Mr. Leck, this is officer Anderson with the West Hennepin Safety Department (police).”


“Are you missing any sheep, sir?”

“I don’t know, really!”

“Well, sir, I think you are. I’m up here on your road, north of the highway and across from the golf course. We have a situation, sir. There are about 60 sheep out on the golf course up here.”

Well, groaning, I rousted my wife and we rose. Officer Anderson turned out to be a delightfully nice man and he spent nearly two hours with us, rustling sheep and getting them to wander down the road and back onto the farm and into safe pasture. My wife and the policeman worked well together. I tried my best not to get in their way.

No damage was done to the golf course and life moved on toward the next adventure. I wrote a letter to the police department, praising the officer. I wanted to give him some cash, too, but it is strictly not allowed. A lesson came from it, however (and by “it” I mean the kindness of the officer). He could have been the sort of cop who would just sit in his warm, cozy car (with flashing lights broadcasting possible danger ahead) and done nothing but scowl at us. That would have been a nightmare. His kindness was rather an extraordinary gift.

Yesterday (Tuesday, 3 July), on Facebook, a wonderful friend of one of my daughters -- a friend who I find delightful and full of fun, produced an entry describing a bit of a nightmare connection she had at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP). It’s a big, strung out airport and she, with two small boys, had only 17 minutes to make a connecting flight all the way at the other end of the terminal after exiting her arrival flight.

“A totally nice guy,” this sweet young lady wrote, “who was on the same itinerary, helped me carry Nathan’s bag, so the four of us just ran and barely made it with four minutes to spare.”

I like stories such as that one. I like to hear about people being kind and helpful to other people. Why not? Life is short, and it can also be tough, and it helps out along the way to show kindness and helpfulness to each other.

That’s all. It’s a simple blog with a simple point, but how incredibly important it is.

And then, on the other hand, the writer of Deuteronomy also says…

“You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.”                                                                  (Deuteronomy 25:4)

Go figure!

Perhaps this little verse from Psalms is also a reminder to us to share our blessings with attitudes of love and kindness...

I know that the Lord maintains the cause of the needy, and executes justice for the poor.
(Psalm 140:12)

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