Being grounded in your faith
When all around are losing it and causing panic, Heather Skull looks at why a field of sheep can teach a lesson about standing firm...
I love Spring. I love the fact that it is getting closer. I love the fact that – because we’re British – we get more excited than ever about the fact that it is noticeably lighter every week, if not every day. I’ve got an app on my phone that tells me when the sun is due to rise. Guess what? It’s getting earlier. And even if I didn’t have an app, I could still tell you, because the sun is appearing earlier in my commute.
So I do like Spring. And the promise of longer days and – oh yes, please – the possibility of warm sunshine as the days go on.
At the moment though, sunshine is tempered with frost. The beautifully delicate dawn brings myriad shades of blue, yellow, red and orange and as the light touches the frost-tipped dark green grass, there’s a depth of colour that no photograph can really do justice to nor an artist can really capture on canvas.
Anyway, I digress. Really I want to talk about sheep. No, really, I do.
As the train wends its unerring way (unless there’s overrunning engineering work in which case we go on a random route via Eastleigh, but that’s a whole other story) through Wiltshire and then into Hampshire, I see that many of the fields have sheep in them.
I confess that the child in me wanted to yell out ‘Lambs’ yesterday morning. It’s the first ones I’ve seen in the fields this year.
Sheep are interesting creatures. Yes, they are. And while you could be forgiven for thinking that they’re a bit dull and all the same, actually, they aren’t.
The fields with the flocks of sheep are often trackside and as the train rattles by I’ve noticed there are several different kinds of reactions.
There are the sheep that just instantly panic and make a run for it across the fields to where they think they’ll be safer. And then there are the sheep that were quite happily eating grass but see the others make a run for it and think that they must make a run for it too.
But there are also the sheep that carry on with the task in front of them, refusing to get stressed or panicked or distracted from it by the loud rattley train life is throwing at them. They know where they are and what they’re doing and they just keep going on.
Well, I don’t need to labour the point do I?
It’s also easy to get drawn into panic when it’s around us. It’s harder to make considered decisions when others are acting like out-of-control windmills. It’s even harder to make decisions when people are trying to scare you into doing something that you genuinely feel isn’t right. It’s in those moments that you need to take yourself out of that situation, physically, spiritually or mentally or all three of those things, so you can take a deep breath and look again.
Being grounded and understanding in what you believe helps, whether that’s politics or faith or something else. I’m not ashamed to admit that I try and keep myself grounded in my faith. It doesn’t always work. I’m not a saint nor ever claimed to be. But that solid foundation should help me not to be swayed from what I believe to be right whether it’s deciding on how to use my vote, making a work-related decision, or weighing up whether I should be moving on to the next bit of my life or staying put. Advice is invaluable. Panicky influence is not.
More often than not staying put, being calm, standing firm in your beliefs and taking time out to think calmly and rationally reveals the truth. The truth for those sheep that stay put to eat the grass is that however loud the train, however scarily noisy it seems to be, however much it seems to disrupt their little lives, it never actually harms them. And is gone almost as soon as it’s arrived.
Heather Skull is a former BBC Radio Wiltshire journalist and a member of Trowbridge Baptist Church. She blogs at tractorgirl66.wordpress.com, where this article first appeared