Historical setting: Along the ridges of the Pyrenees, 6th Century C.E.
This pasture is not just a random field; it’s the designated place the shepherd comes each night with these same sheep. Here, at the far end of the night pasture is a lean-to for shelter and he invites us under this thatch with room enough even for our animals to be safe from the storm; having them in here brings more warmth. The sheep cluster themselves against the wall of rock forming one barrier of this enclosure. Apparently the big white dog chooses to nestle in with the sheep rather than risk finding warmth with the man who has the rod. The shepherd explains the dog prefers the company of the sheep and the dog will stay awake all night and watch so even if the shepherd himself should fall asleep, the dog will bark if we were to steal a sheep and run off with it. In fact, we learn the dog will bark regardless.
“Really, my friend, we will not steal a sheep.”
We unpack our fleeces and prepare to be warm for this night’s rest. Our supplies are plenty so we easily share some food with this fellow. The wind with the storm is coming at us with the full force of the spawning of winter from the north and the west. Now, our whimsy to be helpful to the shepherd is looking like more of a benefit for us. Where would we have found a shelter had we not stopped to help with the sheep? Ahead of us would likely only be more peaks and valleys and open spaces for the wind to press sleet onto our faces.
“We are just grateful to have the warmth of this shelter.” I try to console this fellow who is obviously uncomfortable both in imagining our potential to steal a sheep, and from the pain in his damaged foot. Nic takes compassion.
“May I see what’s wrong with your foot?” Nic offers.
Nic moves over to the man, and moves the young man’s cloak back from his ankle to reveal his ankle is badly swollen. “It seems a recent injury. How did this happen?”
“It’s not what you think! I wasn’t running! I was fighting!”
Nic is simply blunt though his intention was not to challenge him, “It looks more like a bad twist of the ankle and not so much a bruise from a beating.”
(Come again tomorrow)