God, the Devil and I
Have you ever wondered about the voices in your head?
Many, many, many years ago. An old tired man was sitting on a rock watching his sheep graze. He was thinking about his life and all the things he had seen. He had outlived most of his friends and now he sat, alone, grazing his sheep and contemplating the universe, yet again.
He didn’t know much, well, not in comparison to what we know now; it was long before computers and google — even before books existed. There were no iPhones or tablets either.
Just years of watching sheep graze and looking into the vast night sky.
What can you learn from watching sheep graze?
That morning a lamb had died, only minutes after it was born. Even though he had seen countless lambs die before, this time it made him sad. Maybe it brought him back to the reality that one day, he too would die.
Life hadn’t been easy for him, but he thought it had been a good life. He had never gone hungry like some people, like many people, and he had a roof over his head, and wool to keep him warm in the winter.
He never had children — he once thought that a blessing, but now he thought it a curse. It would be nice to have somebody in his older years. Children, who would now be adults and able to take care of him. He was an only child; His two younger brothers had both died at a very young age.
Maybe the lamb reminded him of that.
In those days, things were not like today. Life was hard. There was no real political structure, no postal service, no supermarkets, no clubs and bars; in fact,you were lucky to live to the ripe old age of 80. You had to work hard to get there too, with the sweat of your brow and it wasn’t easy, there were non of the luxuries like we have today.
Many events had been witnessed by the shepherd. Once he was in love, but it was not to be. A life of grazing sheep is not appealing to most women but it was to her, for a while…
He had seen it all. Love, hate and murder. Things that change you forever.
He suddenly felt a certain levity come over him, a kind of revelation.
’I can do whatever I want’. He thought.
‘There are no real boundaries or even consequences, the worst thing that can happen to me is death — and how bad can that be? It is all meaningless! I have spent years watching my sheep graze so I could feed myself and my family, half of which were murdered by wild men.
If they can behave like that,why can’t I?’
This feeling was short-lived. He took his gaze from the stars and directed it towards the earth. He picked up a strong twig and etched shapes in the sand with it.
‘How foolish of me, if I behaved like that surely it would not be a good thing. If everybody killed their neighbour or friend, or even members of their own family, just because they felt like, or because they wanted what others have, what would become of us?
Does it even matter what becomes of us?
Who am I to know good from bad? Why would it be bad? How do we define what is bad and what is good? Is it good for a man to kill to be able to feed his children?…I suppose that depends on who he kills. What if he kills a murderer?..But what if that murderer was only killing to feed his children too or promise them better days ahead? What if he thought that what he was doing was good? Does it make it so?’
The more he thought, the more he realised that a life of rebellion would make no sense. A life without structure would be doomed to fail on all levels. How can a man eat if he doesn’t work? How can he work if he doesn’t keep time? He needs order.
Over all his years as a shepherd, he had observed nature. The flowers that bloom every spring. The sun that descends on the horizon only to rise up again after the long night. The spring lambs. There was structure here. Something we could count on for sure, every day.
The alternative would be the obliteration of mankind and one man left holding a bloody rock.
How he would love to see his wife’s smile right now and hear her say that he was talking nonsense, even though that sparkle in her eye would give her away and show him that she was just teasing him. In a different world or time, maybe he would still be with her, maybe she would never have seen her life end so soon.
‘Maybe I could establish some rules?’ he thought. ‘That others after me could follow…maybe I could pass what I learned onto them.’ He tossed the stick into the bushes. ‘Who is going to pay attention to an old fool?’
He looked up to the stars again.
‘Maybe the rules are already with us, just like the rules of nature are in the spring lambs and flowers.’
This idea satisfied him and he watched the sun set and lay down to sleep.
Every thought that had entered the shepherd’s head had been debated, he had, in a sense, been conversing with himself.
Or had he? Where do the voices in our heads come from — are they voices or are they thoughts? What are thoughts?
What we think about can jumble up our mind or clear it — depending on which thoughts we let grow. Had it been the shepherd’s own voice — or had it come from somewhere else?
This shepherd does not even exist, he may never have existed, yet here he is telling a story. He was a figment of my imagination that manifested onto a computer screen and was sent out into servers and seen by others all over the world and drew the reader in (well I hope it did!)
When I meditate on a subject, I don’t mean that I sit cross legged and say ‘om’, I mean really think about something — I put it to debate in my head. I try to hear the opposing views and debate, like the Shepherd.
I find that we have the best conversations, God, the Devil and I.