There's a fenced off little pasture between our house and the barn. It's where our daughter's wedding reception was held under a canopy of twinkly lights. It's where my husband keeps his hockey training range perfectly manicured. It's where there is a little campfire pit with garden chairs around it.
Frankly, it's where all the good grass is. Tender, green winter rye.
Flash was generally fine with being kept out of there. He enjoyed being let into the little meadow every now and then for a temporary feast, but he never seemed to mind when the gate was closed and he was relegated back to his regular tough Texas grasses. He took it as it came - with gratitude and grace.
Amazingly, he never ONCE pooped in the Good Pasture. We are convinced it was his way of saying, "thank you." Such a gentleman.
But then Penny came along. She's the miniature horse who showed up last spring - complete with an outgrown halter and no apparent owner. She made a huge impression on Flash, who broke down two fences and tore a gate off its post for a chance to meet her. Oh dear. After the two equines fell in love and solidified their relationship in the Biblical sense, we sort of gave up looking for her owners and decided to keep her around. They seemed so happy together, mostly. And we were happy to have her, mostly.
But that's before she started having a bad influence on Flash. We now know why no one stepped forward to claim Little Miss Hottie. She's a pain in the, well, rear. Fences mean nothing to her. She can slip through the tiniest of spaces, squeeze through any gap, and break any wire to make a dash for freedom....or help herself to the Good Pasture any old time she pleases.
Flash, lovestruck (or hen-pecked, you decide), follows suit. They've gotten into that pasture so many times that we've decided it's not even worth it to try and keep them out.
Have at it, lovebirds. Eat it. Eat it all. Eat it 'til it's gone.
And suddenly, there is poop EVERYWHERE. Tiny little turds, but in huge piles. Penny is like a one-horse poop factory.
Not to be left out, Flash has made his own piles, albeit just one or two. However, his are way off to the side in self-designated areas. He's funny that way. I love that he's just slightly fastidious about where he poops.
Unlike his charming girlfriend.
Tom gave me an ultimatum the other day. Something about if I wanted to keep my donkey and that dang little horse, I was going to have to start scooping poop from the Good Pasture or they'd kill all the grass in there and he'd personally get rid of them both.
Well, obviously, I want to keep both Flash AND his dang little girlfriend so I got busy with the shovel yesterday. I scooped and threw turds over the fence until my fingers had to be peeled from the shovel handle. Penny was unconcerned with my work and even gave me an extra pile to scoop while I was at it.
Flash lingered beside me everywhere I went, looking apologetic about the state of his habitat. I couldn't be mad at him. He's at the mercy of the diva, and like most guys he can't help himself around a cute girl.
As I scooped, I thought about all this poop. I thought about how all the yucky parts of life just keep happening, even in the midst of the beautiful Christmas season.. Scoop, scoop. Toss. Scoop. Diapers need to be changed, children's throw-up must be cleaned, dogs must be walked, raw chicken must be dealt with, the fuzz on the unrecognizable leftovers in the back of the fridge has to be carried at arm's length to the trash. Annoying co-workers and dysfunctional family systems must be navigated.
And all while the Christmas tree glows in the corner and Bing Crosby croons, "Silent Night." What a contrast.
My nativity scene in the living room, with its camel, sheep and donkey figurines, remind me that those animals, too, probably pooped where they weren't supposed to, right when it was most inconvenient. Probably right there in the barn the night Jesus was born. Somebody had to clean that up...maybe even Joseph himself....on the most important moment of world history. I wonder how he felt about that.
It's the mystery of the eternal, fully housed in our earthly state. Treasures in earthen vessels. Shabby shepherds carrying the news of a savior.
A God, who cannot be contained, in human flesh.
That's something to think about.
Listen. No matter what kind of poop you're scooping this Christmas - be it donkey or work or relationship doodie - I pray that the beauty of the season is not lost, but rather, found. Sometimes it's the utter messiness of life that brings us 'round to the silence, the purity, the necessity of a savior in a manger. A baby who would hold eternal life and peace within his little hand, right there in a smelly stable.
God omnipotent in a hay trough.
Our mess - His glory. Yes, poop happens at Christmastime and you have to scoop it when it's most inconvenient. But let it remind you that He has come to the very center of your disasters to bring glad tidings of great joy. He chose to shine his light into our broken humanness so that we would be drawn irresistably to His perfect love and grace. So that even if nothing around us ever changes, we are changed. We have a blessed hope, and a calling to move toward His light in the midst of it all.
Do you feel like you're doing a lot of scooping this Christmas? Don't be discouraged. This is the whole purpose of God's kingdom. We live it out, work it out, one day at a time....remembering that the mess leads us to the beauty of Jesus.
How can I pray for you this December? Feel free to email me or leave a comment here.