Ye Olde Sheepherder’s Cabin
Elk Hunting 2012. It was my one and only time elk hunting while living in Wyoming. It started out as the picturesque Western hunt: meet up at the trailhead, grab my gear, saddle up a horse, and ride in about two hours to camp. It was just starting to snow, but the wind was quiet. Awesome scene going into the backcountry after the legendary Wapiti. The snow that started falling gently ended up dumping about 8 inches that night. We hunted the next day until about noon, after deciding the storm was socked in and visibility was almost zero with the snow falling. (It eventually dumped a foot and a half that afternoon and night). We broke camp and left the next day, walking the horses because it was too slick and dangerous to ride them out. There’s nothing quite like the camaraderie of elk camp in the middle of nowhere. Even though I didn’t see an elk, or even a track, that hunt, we did come across an old sheepherders cabin. The roof had fallen in, the door was gone, and one wall was rotten, but man was it cool. The builders didn’t use nails, just wooden pegs, and just looking at the architecture, they used just what was available to them in the area. We all talked about, and imagined what it would have been like to have built that place, when we got back to camp that night. With Christmas quickly approaching, this story came back to mind when reading through the account of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2. In verses 8-20, Luke gives the account of what the shepherds experienced that night. One that may have begun like any other. Eleazar falling asleep on night watch, Jedidiah yelling at him to wake up for the umpteenth time, then the sky explodes with light, a mystical being begins talking about a baby…crazy stuff. But what struck me this time reading through the story, was the fact that God chose to spread the news through the shepherds first. He started with guys who usually found out the latest happenings 3 days late and a few dollars short. They were out in the fields. In the hills and valleys with the sheep. So anything that happened in town, didn’t reach them until someone either went into town for supplies, or someone came out (which I’m guessing didn’t happen too often). When we were looking over the old cabin, way back in the Rocky Mountains, a body would be hard pressed to find out things that happened a year ago. I’m reminded of the scene from Jeremiah Johnson (starring Robert Redford, if you want a good idea of what hunting on horseback in the west is like, that will give you a pretty good picture), where the character, Bear Claw Chris Lapp, looks Jeremiah over (whose wearing a soldier’s uniform) and makes a comment on missing another war. News didn’t travel far into the mountains. And I’m thinking it didn’t travel far into the hills of Judea either. The fact that God chose to reveal this great news to those in the hills, speaks a lot about His character. He cares for, and includes those that so often society forgets about, until the moment they are needed, then discards them again once that moment is over. It gives much encouragement to all of us, especially those in occupations that society at large discards until the moment arises, then throws them back in the corner (shout out to all law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs, soldiers, and the like). God cares. A lot. So much that He sent His Son.