Gabriel turns Two: Happy Birthday Sweet Boy

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Little Shepherd Girl

A new mattress was on its way for our little boy, Gabriel, and the house was littered with colorful toys and recycling bags, whose paper contents had been emptied gleefully across the living room space, even trailing down the stairs to our entryway like like bread crumbs. Amazon.com boxes piled like skyscrapers in the corner by the door. There was no room for the mattress, and the delivery was about to happen -- any time between 1pm and 4pm.

David, my husband assessed the situation and announced he was going to take care of the recycling and went about it, leaving me upstairs with our three little kids. Gabe wanted to press the other song on the CD player; Avriana popped like a foghorn, and Nika needed help opening the Peanut Butter -- and a reminder that pushing her brother off the stool is not an acceptable solution to territory disputes. I adore my kids and love them more than life itself.

And yet...

My nose quivered, opening to the fresh air cleverly wafting in each time the door opened and shut between savory trips to the dumpster outside our condominium complex. I sniffed the cardboard on its way outside, and compared that with the poopy smell emanating from a small bum slithering around on our blue rug; the sound of sleet with the sound of whine.

When I was little, I always wanted to shovel snow with my dad -- even if it was wet, heavy snow. I always choose raking leaves over sweeping the kitchen, stacking wood over chopping vegetables or wiping the table. It could be this remembrance that links me Sarah, the protagonist in a fabulous new Christmas story called The Little Shepherd Girl written by Juliann Henry.

Sarah wants to be a shepherd. She pleads with her to go out and watch the flock. Her Father's response at first, is traditional, even protective.

"No, Sarah," he finally said. "Daughters are meant for weaving and baking flat cakes. Only sons can protect the flock from a hungry wolf. That is just the way of things."

"But, Father," Sarah's voice rose, "you have no sons to bring the sheep to pasture! And why does my nose prefer the smell of sweet clover to that of bread dough?"

After I kiss my baby, nibble my toddler and read a story to my very own Little Shepherd Girl, who, like her mother, prefers to play outside, jumping rocks, than tending stoves or dressing babies, I ask David if we can switch places. Being an enlightened man (and certainly not my father,) he doesn't forbid my crossover into "his" territory, though he is caught off guard -- at least a little.

Soon I am outside in the chill, my boots slipping slightly on the sleet-covered sidewalk, with heavy bags filling my arms with life and strength and a sense of accomplishment. Air fills my lungs and I look up and thank God. And I think of Sarah, the little shepherd girl, who, on the Eve of Christmas is finally freed to follow her own North Star.

Caring for her sheep, and without abandoning a single one that first night out in the fields, Sarah, manages to shepherd the flock all the way to the manger, where she meets Baby Jesus -- ahead of her boy cousins, for that matter.

And this is my advent calling: To breathe the wild, fresh air of undomesticated life without abandoning any of my little lambs.

Each day may God open a new window, so I can see Sarah's North Star. And may it point me to the Baby Jesus, whom I discover in my own little ones when I come inside, my body tingling with air and life from beyond the kitchen where the little tots play.


Pistol Pete said...

You've captured nicely a spiritual moment in family life. Well done.

Juliann said...

Beautiful thoughts! What a gracious gift we have-- this opportunity to bring our "flock" into Bethlehem and touch the hand of Jesus. Thanks for taking my story to heart. Please kiss your kids for me.
Juliann Henry

Jemila Kwon said...

Juliann, I'm so happy you stopped by! Our whole family loves you book. It is beautiful, and your own beautiful spirit shines through your creation.My daughter took it to school for "favorite book" day :) Kiss your kids too!

medium guy said...

Our family - especially our oldest daughter - loves this book! What a fresh, insightful perspective on the story of Jesus' birth, with a bright, hopeful message (as is Jesus) and wonderful illustrations. And Jemila, I really enjoyed your anecdote and how you wove it into your experience of the book. With your gifted writing and your obvious interest in communicating about God with your children, have you ever considered children's literature? If so, I'd love to read some of your work!