Battling depression and feeling lost, a woman finds her way with a little angelic help.
- Posted on Aug 10, 2011
Fall’s glorious colors were all around me in the parking lot, but I kept my eyes on the psychiatric clinic where I had my appointment. For weeks I’d been unable to take an interest in anything at all. I was beginning to wonder if I ever would care about the world again.
All my life I’d loved nature. The sight of flowers in the spring and the smell of the woods around my log house never failed to bring me joy. When I walked in those woods I could feel God right beside me.
I used to feel that close, I thought, my eyes on the parking lot asphalt. Now I’d never felt farther from God.
It was my pastor who’d encouraged me to get counseling at the clinic. I worked as her assistant at the church, and she couldn’t help but notice how down I seemed.
“I don’t know what to do for myself,” I confessed to her one Sunday. “I can barely get myself out of bed in the morning, much less get through my work email or take care of things at home. The simplest tasks make me feel completely overwhelmed. I can’t even enjoy taking my morning walk.”
“And I know how much you love that,” she said with concern.
“The truth is,” I told her, “I feel like the biblical lost lamb, separated from the flock, separated from God.”
I reached the door to the clinic and stopped short. A few feet away, nibbling at a weed growing out of the concrete was a little white goat. “Where did you come from?” I said, picking up the leash attached to the collar around her neck.
I looked around for her owner, but the lot was empty. Obviously the little goat had gotten loose.
The staff was surprised when I walked into the clinic with my new friend trailing behind me. The receptionist, the doctors and the patients rushed to pet her. “Does anyone know who she belongs to?” I asked.
Nobody did. “Someone needs to take care of her until we find her owners,” the receptionist said.
“I will!” I said. “I have plenty of room at home. You have my number if the owner comes by.”
Why did I volunteer? I thought after I’d said it. Oh, there was nothing strange about me wanting to care for an animal. Back home I had a couple of dogs and a small flock of chickens. But lately I’d neglected them along with everything else. So why did this little goat capture my attention?
She’s lost, just like me, I thought. Maybe I couldn’t find my own way back home, but I could help the little goat find hers. “I’ll take good care of you,” I told her. “I promise.”
After my session I brought the goat home and introduced her to my dogs, Veda and Victor. “This is Gurdy Goat,” I said. “Doctor Gurdy Goat.”
Veda and Victor were not as happy about our guest as I was. Every time I turned around there was a bleat or a growl that signaled another altercation. “Maybe we all need to go outside,” I said.
I snapped leashes on Veda and Victor. I held the dogs in one hand and Gurdy in the other, careful to keep them apart.
I followed one of the paths I often walked in the mornings. Victor and Veda veered this way and that, checking out all the interesting smells along the ground. Gurdy stayed by my side and nibbled the tasty flowers we passed.
With two dogs and a goat to keep an eye on, I couldn’t let myself get distracted by my problems.
I gave the chickens fresh water and feed. Focusing on that simple chore made me think about the other things I’d neglected: the laundry and dirty dishes piling up, the unopened mail in the front hall.
These routine jobs had seemed impossible the last few weeks. Now for the first time, I felt the strength to get started on them. “You’re some great doctor,” I told Gurdy. “Already you’ve got me feeling better.”
Back in the house I clicked on my computer and checked my email. There were a lot of messages, many concerning my work at church. But something was different. I didn’t feel overwhelmed. I answered one, then another, and on down the list.
I was far from caught up with everything in my life, but I’d made some positive progress. If I did a little each day, I could empty my in-box.
I switched off the computer and went outside to sit with Gurdy. “You’re the best thing that’s happened to me in a long time,” I said.
My cell phone rang. “I got your name from the clinic,” the woman on the line said. “They said you had my goat. I’ve been so worried.”
“You’re found, Gurdy!” I said, ruffling her floppy white ears. “She’s right here when you’re ready,” I told the woman on the phone. “Oh, by the way, what’s her name?”
“Her name is Mary,” the woman said. “But we call her Little Lamb.”
How perfect, I thought. I hung up the phone and heard a cry overhead. The little goat and I both looked up. A flock of geese was passing through the hazy autumn sky. Something stirred in my chest, a familiar feeling I’d thought I’d lost forever.
I felt certain Little Lamb and I had both been found.