Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Lamb

I had the rare opportunity to travel to Peru a few years ago. I was traveling with a man I was dating at the time, and a humanitarian group that he was leading from the States. Because of his knowledge of and involvement with the country, we were able to see Peru more intimately than most tourists, traveling to places that few get to see. Yes, I hiked Machu Picchu, but I also visited with native tribes living deep in the Amazon rainforest, and at 10,000 feet in elevation in remote parts of the Andes mountains. The experience made a delible impression upon me, like permanent ink on the tissues of my heart. I never want to forget the smudged, brown faces, piercing black eyes and the broad white smiles of little Peruvian children, dressed in torn and ragged sweaters and pants donated by Americans, shoeless, and filthy, but shining brighter than the sun at midday with happiness that few of us will ever understand.


While we were in the Andes, making plans to build greenhouses for the tribe that lived there, to teach them how to grow food inside during cold months and thus provide more adequately for their families, one of the men in the group got a craving for lamb. Fresh lamb. The people in the mountains are shepherds, leaving their young children alone during the day, while the adults and older children take the flock to pasture in the high hills of the beautiful terrain. This man wanted to taste lamb from the mountains in Peru, and asked, through a translator, if he could purchase one. The arrangement was made, and a lamb was sold for $50 American money, a fortune to these people. The lamb was separated from its mother, the two of them bleating their agonizing goodbyes, but once away, he became quiet. He was laid on his side, and his four legs were tied together with rope. And there he stayed throughout the day, until dinner time approached. He never made a sound. He laid perfectly still, eyes open, mouth quiet.



When the time came, and work was done for the day, this man, seeing only dinner, came to the lamb and prepared to slaughter it. It was a difficult scene for someone like me, raised by animal activists and vegetarians, and loving the creatures as I do. The lamb kept its eyes open, looked into the man's eyes, and never made a sound as his throat was slit, and his blood was spilt. He gave his life freely, without struggle or complaint, with perfect submission. I wept. It was a stunning object lesson. It has haunted my mind since that day, so much so that I have refrained from speaking of it for fear that it might desecrate the sacredness of the experience.

"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb so he opened not his mouth." Isaiah 53:7

Today, this Sabbath day, I am filled with gratitude for another sacrifice, the Supreme sacrifice, of One who went like a lamb to the slaughter.

11 comments:

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

jenna:
you brought tears to my eyes as i read this. you keep getting to me in how you write. i love how you have an attitude of gratitude.

i am grateful, too, for the sacrifices that were made for us so we could have what we cherish. the Gospel means everything to me and the road that it took me to get to the point where i chose it and hold tightly to it ... i wouldn't change it because i know what it was like BEFORE and i know what it has felt like in my life SINCE choosing this. we are so blessed.

blessings to you this Sabbath (as tears are still trickling down my face).

thank you for writing honestly and deeply, kathleen

Jo Beaufoix said...

Jenna that was so sad.
I am veggie too and can't imagine having to see that lamb taken from its mother and then killed.
no wonder you never forgot it.

Luisa Perkins said...

Beautifully done, darling.

Julie Wright said...

Jenna, That was a beautiful message. And much needed for me today. Thank you.

Josi said...

wow, what an incredible visual to put together. Thanks for sharing. I'd have cried too.

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

hi jenna:
i awarded you something on my blog tonight. come and see :) kathleen

Annette Lyon said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, Jenna. It brings an entirely new meaning to that scripture.

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

Jenna,

Thank you for sharing that. It was intensely beautiful.

Saint Holiday said...

Jenna!
What a poignant account of a very sacred experience. Thank you for sharing this. I am reminded of the laws ordained by the Lord for the observance of the Passover, as set forth in Exodus 12. On the 10th day of the specified month, families were to choose a lamb for the sacrifice and bring it home. The actual sacrifice would not be made until the 14th day, so for that 5 day period, the little lamb needed to be closely cared for and tended. You know how very cute they are and how easy it is to fall in love with them. Imagine how heart-rending it would be to take this little friend after those five days of tenderness and to put it to death! I believe that proscribed time was intended by the Lord as a way to evoke the deepest sensitivites, as you have done in your account. The lamb, through which the Spirit taught you on your trip to Peru, is feeding and quickening you today in a way that is beyond the appreciation of a carnal mind. I love your feelings.

Laurie said...

Jenna, I found your blog from LDS Blogs. Thank you for sharing this experience. My mind is full of gratitude for our Savior and his sacrifice for each of us. After reading this account of the the little innocent lamb I am filled with so much emotion. I would have cried also. I have a desire to re-evaluate my own life and my decisions and make sure that the Savior's atonement and crucifiction was not done in vain. This visual has changed my thinking. Thank you!!

Tristi Pinkston said...

Oh, wow.

I really don't have much beyond that to say.