“Easter Sermons” by Harlow Clark

I

The Rancher Speaks

I was in the sheep business for years.
Sold off my sheep and got into the cattle business and now I have friends.
The cattle men talk to me.
I suppose what finally drove me out was the predators.
The eagles swooping down and taking newborn lambs
and there was nothing we could do about it.
We tried noisemakers and other things.
Finally we heard about Great Pyrenees dogs.
You put 2 in the pen and they protect the sheep.
Well, my cousin and I drove up to Idaho
and the fellow wanted $500 apiece for them.
We each bought two.
We put them in the pens and they started right in doing what they were supposed to.

Bringing the sheep in from the spring field we found 30 head and a dog missing.
We had a higher pasture so my wife and I drove up there.
We found the 30 head and the dog
— limping and thin and shaggy.
It was apparent he had fought off some predators,
and he had worn out his feet.
I put him in the back of the truck,
but he wanted to get out so I tied him in,
and my wife started down to the lower pasture to put out food and water,
and I walked the sheep,
but she stopped.

The Great Pyrenees was hanging over the edge of the bed.
Well, I tied him in tighter,
but he started hanging over the side of the bed and he managed to slip out of his collar.
He wasn’t going to let anything keep him from his job.
When we got down to the lower pasture he barely stopped for a drink,
then went back to his sheep.
He died a few days later.
I was a sheepman, he a shepherd.
The cost to be a good shepherd is everything.

II

The Rancher’s Wife Comes to the Pulpit

Not a shepherd? Perhaps, but let me tell you about his ducks.
He bought a new batch of chicks and ducks, keeps them out in the garage.
He’s really good about keeping them fed and watered and the box cleaned out.
He had them in the same box but the ducks weren’t being nice to the chicks.
He told me one day. “I’m worried about this one. Its feet are cold.”
When he worries I worry.

Going down to the basement I heard water running in the bathroom.
He was washing the duck’s feet.
I thought about the Savior washing Peter’s feet
And how at first Peter didn’t want it.
Sometimes we let our pride get in the way of what the Savior needs.
When Peter understood this he said, “Lord wash all of me,
Hands, head, feet and all.”
But the feet suffice to warm the duck.

________________________________________________________________

Harlow Soderborg Clark grew up in Provo, spending many an hour on the living room carpet listening to a couple of Smothers Brothers albums.  He thinks of their character, “poor, dull, mediocre Fred,” as an alter ego. He also has an altar ego writing a fiction called Sacrament Meeting in the Alzheimers Ward, which includes a character who turns peoples’ talks into poems. Harlow is on hiatus (soon to end, he hopes) from blogging on AMV about Book of Mormon textual changes. He thanks Leslie Norris for ideas about simplicity which allowed him to recognize this poem when he heard it.

*Contest entry*

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