Bees at Midnight is a compilation of reflections during Mother Diane’s twelve-week internship on a farm in Oregon while on her journey to becoming a priest. This collection of short stories captures her beautiful experience and candid musings. In the coming weeks we will share one short story each week.
Preface (9/19) | Rock Festival (9/26) | The Parade (10/3) | Seeds and Weeds 10/10 | Cockcrow (10/17) | Housecats and Barncats (10/24) | Bees at Midnight (10/31) | Fancy That (11/7) | Swimming Upstream (11/14)
“He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens;
the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him,
for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for
they do not know the voice of strangers,” (John 10:2‐5)
As I leave the farm, the rams and the ewes are still separated from one
another. The ewes will be bred next month, and the lambing season will be during
the winter. For much of the summer, the sheep have been in separate pastures, the
ewes behind the main house and the rams over by the barn. I was sorry when it was
time to separate the two groups because that meant the end of one of the most
amusing activities of the daily routine, herding the sheep from the near pasture to
the far one by going down the country road in the morning and then back again in
the afternoon. This daily event was known as ”the parade.”
I had occasion to see my bishop lead a whole congregation on a three‐mile
walk from an old location to a new one during the spring. He headed the whole
procession, crosier in hand, wearing also his cope and miter. It was an opportunity
for me to think quite a bit about the role of bishops and of pasturing, and of how
important it was to that parish to have the chief shepherd of the diocese leading the
way from an old to a new land. I will always have the image of a bishop as a
shepherd in my memory.
“The parade” put me in touch with the other side of this Christian analogy.
Each day Father John would put on his boots, his jacket, and take his staff out with
him to the pasture gate where he talked to the sheep. They all have names, and all
would crowd toward him for a kindly pat. They would baa in recognition that their
shepherd was present. I was mainly an observer of these exchanges and of the
transit down the road. Father John would walk ahead; he had to keep the pace. He
would use the staff to make sure that a frisky lamb or a headstrong ewe would not
succeed in getting ahead of him. I walked along with John, having the luxury of
turning around to watch the wooly promenade. Once or twice I led the parade myself after I had been at the farm a few weeks. But that was not quite the same
because the sheep knew that I was only subbing for their real shepherd.
The best part of being around the sheep was to experience biblical imagery
come alive; I learned how skittish sheep can be and how their shepherd calms them
by his manner, his voice, and the way that he cares for them. It is an important