September 15, 2010

Second Spring

 LIKE MANY OF YOU, WE’VE BEEN TRYING TO SELL OUR HOUSE. FOR US, THE ?decision was twofold. First, money. This house—which came with five wonderful acres—was a stretch from the start: a remnant of a period during which I, the giving father, reached as high as I could. I wanted space for our children—space to play and animals to play with. As a trade-off, we wound up with limited space financially and emotionally. It was probably a mistake, this property, as much as we’ve enjoyed it. It certainly hasn’t been the investment I expected it to be.
The other factor was life itself. We’ve noticed our three daughters beginning to move on: from swings and animals to music and gadgets. Plus, the house has only one shower—with more and more people lining up for it. So we sold the goats and horses and put out the For Sale sign. It was time for a change of seasons.
But after a year, the house hasn’t sold. The market is way down, and we can’t drop our price any further. We wondered: What do you do with a former dream home you can’t sell?
2010 1531 page30Finally we decided: Make it your dream home again. The For Sale sign still remains out front, but we’re not going to sit here and live for the future. We’re going to live for the moment.
This spring we disconnected the television and bought two cheviot sheep: a pregnant ewe named Lily and a fat ram named Buddy. When we showed up in our SUV, we managed to stuff Lily into one of our dog cages, but it became apparent that Buddy would have to stand free. Every time I looked in the rearview, I saw the three faces of my girls . . . and one mammoth face of Buddy.
Sheep aren’t the brightest bulbs, and each morning we’ve been amused at their puzzled looks when we walk out to feed them. They both stare blankly, as if to say, “Have we ever seen anyone before?” A shake of the grain bucket seems to bring them back.
A real chunk, Buddy lives up to his ram status. He likes to ram us when we’re least expecting it. He doesn’t have horns, or we’d all be lying in a field bleeding to death. But still, it’s not very pleasant getting thunder-butted from behind. He gets a certain look in his eye and then he backs up several steps to get a good run at you. (I now carry a staff to comfort me.) Cindy says Buddy reminds her of Daniel 8:4: “I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; and no beasts could stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and magnified himself” (ASV).*
Lily is more genteel, subdued, and, well, sheepish. We spent the first few days trying to get a good underside look at her to see if she was “bagging up.” Finally I grabbed her and flipped her into seatbelt position while Cindy and the girls played obstetrician: Oh, see that there? I think that means something.
We’ve been rushing outside each morning, over the footbridge, to check on Lily—was today the day? But she always just stared blankly, and we began to lose some hope that we’d have a baby lamb to take to the outdoor Easter pageant our church does each year. Early on the morning of Palm Sunday, my daughter Morgan and I crossed the footbridge. Standing there in the wet green grass, Lily didn’t gaze at us as she usually did. She was too busy tending to the perfect newborn lamb walking alongside her, whiter than white. Morgan screamed. Then I did too. We ran back over the bridge to the house—“Baby lamb! Baby lamb!”—where Cindy, Ally, and Summer stumbled out of bed into their clothes and rushed outside with us to see.
What do you do when the seasons won’t change? You bloom where you’re planted. 
*Texts credited to ASV are from The Holy Bible, edited by the American Revision Committee, Standard Edition, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1901.
Andy Nash is journalism professor and lay pastor in Collegedale, Tennessee. His new book is a spiritual memoir called Paper God. This article was published September 16, 2010.