Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Escape of the sacrificial sheep

Sheepie enjoying some solitude in our yard. (His face has been hidden to prevent attachment).
I came home the other day and was greeted with a nice loud “baaaa” from a new guest that was hanging out in front of the house. A sheep grazing in my family’s yard did not surprise me too much; there have been a few incidents in the past month where chickens or cows have stumbled into the yard. I like to pretend they’re entranced by the sound of the drill coming from my deda’s dental office. (One time, I even looked out the window and saw a cow sniffing all the different socks and underwear that were drying on the clothesline outside. Since that day, I have hung my clothes from the balcony).

This particular sheep was an exception to all the other straggler barnyard animals who tried to succumb to the Siren song of the drill. This sheep (who will henceforth be referred to as Sheepie) was especially chosen to be sacrificed to God.

When I first heard this I was a bit uneasy about the whole situation. I was a vegetarian before coming to Georgia and now I find myself listening to the “baas” of an animal that has a defined expiration date. I briefly considered setting Sheepie free but am not sure a sheep could escape very far. (Well maybe if I sheared it, and died its fur blue it could be disguised for a bit of time, but this idea seems faulty).

From what I’ve gathered (and its possible I may have slightly misunderstood) the Georgian Orthodox practice of animal sacrifice is actually quite beautiful. Sheepie will be given to God in honor of Levan, my neighbor’s son who was killed six years ago. Levan’s parents have built him a church a few hours from Samtredia and when the church is finished, Sheepie will be walked around it three times and then slaughtered to thank God for all the blessings in life. All of the workers who helped build the church as well as poor members in the community will be invited to a celebration where Sheepie will be eaten and God will be praised.

I was happy to know that Sheepie would not be killed in vain; he will feed the poor and provide a nutritious meal for those who could not afford one. Plus, it is a blessing for Sheepie to be sacrificed to God, so hopefully there will be some perks for Sheepie in sheep heaven.

Sheepie is tricky though. When I came home from school, he ran outside the gate as soon as I opened it. So off I went, chasing after him, shouting in Georgian for him to stop and come over. For a split second I felt like a border collie on a mission to herd my flock of one. When I finally caught Sheepie, I hugged him in the middle of the road and tried to drag him home by holding him in a headlock. (Clearly I have had no experience dealing with escapee barnyard animals on death row). Thankfully, one of my deda’s dental patients watched the whole ordeal unfold while sitting in the dentist’s chair and ran over to help (complete with a little toothpaste froth on his lips).

Sheepie has integrated his way into my daily life. He is my natural alarm clock. Every morning he sits outside my window and incessantly baas. It is less than pleasant, but it does get me out of bed. Some nights he even sits outside my window and baas until midnight or later. I have been quite lucubratious (I think that’s a real word) planning activities for my students simply because I cannot sleep with Sheepie professing a soliloquy to me outside my window as if I am Shakespeare’s Juliet.

The whole situation only gets more complicated because I am reading Paul Coelho’s “The Alchemist”, a book about a shepherd, where sheep are written about in such a way that they seem to have humanistic qualities. I am trying hard to view Sheepie as an animal that’s serving a higher purpose in life so it will be less sad for me when he’s gone. On the bright side, at least after Sheepie hits the bucket, I will get to use the snooze button on my alarm clock. I'll take ZZZs over baas any day.

1 comment:

  1. I like the way u write and the your sense of humour.