The earth sounds different when it’s cold, God. Your molecules of creation slow down. The hum of life vibrating doesn’t surround me and my dog on our morning walk. We are explorers of a new world way too far below zero where snow sounds like hard polystyrene foam when we step on it. It’s a short walk. Just too cold. On the way home I worry my now retired doggie can’t do it even with his special blue coat covering his deep border collie fur. Just as we turn into the driveway he hops along on three legs, sparing his “bad” rear leg and holding its dear sweet paw, smaller than the rest, off the ground. But we make it. Inside again, it feels too hot. Doggie is fine and happy. Even though we never did find sheep to herd he will be eager to go again, at the first sign of me putting on my heavy boots. He will walk, his ears alert, his nose scenting without ceasing, his eyes scanning the neighbourhood. He will always go out and walk, in case there are sheep nearby who need him to do his job. Thank you for his steadfast calling, reminding me of mine. And thank you, Shepherd, for looking for us, finding us, and leading us home again. Amen.

Diane Strickland, ordained for 33 years, is a Community & Workplace Traumatologist, Compassion Fatigue Specialist–Therapist and Critical Incident Responder. She is retired in The United Church of Canada, serving special emergent needs–like supporting ministers and ministries during a pandemic.

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