Life on the farm is full of the most tender and heartbreaking moments. There is a daily invitation to embrace this tension of life and death, beauty and decay. It’s there in the budding daffodil flowers, the leaves that are unraveling themselves to join back with the earth, and the smallest rise and fall of a little lamb's chest as it labors to take its first breaths.
It has been over 10 years since we moved to the farm, and in that time we've raised kittens, chicks, piglets, kids (the goat kind), kids (the human kind), and with the birth of a lamb this weekend, we can now say lambs as well. The mother, Reba, birthed her lamb triplets on the coldest, wettest day of winter and 2 of the 3 did not survive. The little lamb who pulled through (who has since been named Cherry, or Cherry Pie when he's being extra cute), has given us all such a lift in his 6 days earthside. It seems that everyone's maternal instincts have kicked on, and we all spent Saturday and Sunday taking turns bottle feeding, holding, and cuddling with him while he napped. To be clear, we did leave him with his mama for the first 10 hours or so of life, and did milk her to try to get some of her colostrum in him, but he was beyond weak by mid-afternoon and so was moved indoors as a last ditch attempt to save him. Luckily, the TLC, speedy trip to Tractor Supply for some colostrum supplement, and a lot of time warming up in front of the fire has allowed him to slowly gather his strength. We have been putting him with his mom more and more each day, and last night he was able to spend his first night, a small but important victory for that little buddy. In my arms, he feels as light as a feather, and with him not quite having the vigor of a normal, springy lamb yet he is content to be cuddled and kissed. It's hard not to feel palpably how hopeful new life is... to feel exactly how big of a gift just breathing is.
Our illustration for February, in the 2022 calendar, is of three bright red tulips. It is said that the red tulip carries the sentiment of a promise of love that will never grow old. Unconditional promises. These are stronger than feelings, desires, emotions. They come from within us when we commit to a decision and a promise. I am reminded of the promise of this lamb’s new life, the devotion of its mother, and the desire that all of us have for their bonding and health.
David Richo summarizes it beautifully …
“ An opened heart is boundless; that is, unconditional in its scope. Once we are awakened to love as the lifelong purpose of our hearts, then feeling love for all the world becomes the meaning—and greatest joy—of living.”
Devotion is a purity of intention, desire, and motivation to something outside of ourselves. It requires a life that’s connected to the heart, a place where intentions come from compassion. It’s this lifelong and daily practice of keeping and knowing unconditional promises that creates the space for transformation. Through walks in the woods, reading, praying, mediating, yoga etc we experience body-based rewiring that allows us to know more deeply. A connection to a larger whole. And when this happens, our hearts are boundless.
This month, we will continue to nurse along and love to pieces this tender little lamb. Cherry, is a reminder to embrace the moment of beauty unfolding in front of us every day. It may be brief, but it's an unconditional promise nonetheless. And I know we’ve mentioned her a billion times, but we feel like her work is worth at least a billion and one mentions, so we’ll leave you with an excerpt of one of her poems. Take care, dear ones.
I want to believe I am looking
into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing –
that the light is everything — that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.
— Mary Oliver, ‘The Ponds’