Sheep are, in the words of Rubeus Hagrid from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, “seriously misunderstood creatures”. Actually, Hagrid wasn’t talking about sheep, but I am. When people think of sheep, they think of little puff balls of adorableness (no idea if that’s a word, but I just made it one) that just munch on green grass and make sweet baa-ing noises. In reality, sheep are strong, stubborn creatures that aren’t the pure white color we always thought they were. Don’t get me wrong, they are still very adorable. But seriously, the best word to describe sheep isn’t adorable, but headstrong. Let me show you. It’s storytime, folks!
So, I go to this camp every summer and one of the things we do is worm the sheep. In actuality, worming sheep is a misnomer, because we’re really de-worming the sheep. But worming sounds cooler, so we say that. But anyways, worming sheep consists of giving them medicine (which looks sort of like baby formula) with a syringe-like thing. So, this is all great fun, but the sheep are so stubborn. You don’t realize how headstrong sheep are until you have to worm them. What’s really fun is when a ewe gets out before she’s gotten her medicine and one kid has to hold onto her and not let her go, scraping up his knee thorougly in the process. Ahhhh, the memories.
But what’s the point of that story?? Sheep are stubborn, but it’s the lambs who are really adorable. Lambs fit the cute stereotype more, but what I love about sheep is how they’re used as symbols. Sheep are kind of stupid, and they’ll follow the flock wherever they go. Sheep need a shepherd, and without that shepherd, they’re lost. And I love the image of a lamb on a shepherd’s shoulders being carried home.
People are a lot like sheep: we have the tendency to follow the pack and get lost in conformism. We often need someone or something to drop the ice cold bucket of reality over our heads. Some people choose their religion, someone they trust, or just their common sense to help them with that. And there’s nothing wrong with that. On a different spectrum, the image of the lamb on the shepherd’s shoulders identifies with our longing for comfort and closeness with other people. Admit it, you just want to be held. You want someone to pull you close and say, “It’s okay, I’ve got you. I love you, and you never have to worry about anything anymore.” Isn’t that our dream? Isn’t that why people have relationships and fall in love? Because they find someone who makes them feel loved and safe. As humans, we just want intimacy. Now intimacy as a word has been jaded and misconstrued over time, but what I’m trying to get to is the idea of closeness and comfort that goes beyond mere physical closeness. But if you want a picture of both human and sheep stubbornness, here it is:
Farewell until tomorrow, my sheep-like friends,