Autumn, 1969

It was a warm, cloudy Autumn morning and I was restless.  I emerged from Akers Hall at MSU determined to exercise away the demons. Newly free of the seminary I had discovered that being in a relationship with the girl of my dreams (who now lived across the street) was more complicated than I thought.  Diane was moody at times.  My commitment to pursue her had caught her a bit off guard and she had yet to figure out what she was pursuing. One thing she had decided was that she was going to Washington DC the following semester to serve as an intern for a congressman. This she was thrilled about.  Her favorite song was “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” I was less than thrilled by this prospect, and  Peter, Paul and Mary were my enemies. There was also the small matter of what I was intending to do with my life besides being with Diane as much as possible.  I was a pre-med student who didn’t care for biology or chemistry. 

I laced my shoes and jogged off towards the woods behind Diane’s McDonnell Hall.  The woods were a place of peace for me.  I didn’t try to think things through when I went running through the trees. I would sink into a sweet trance,  aware and not aware of the smells the sounds and the sights of the changing season.  This morning felt vaguely ominous as the skies darkened but that feeling dissipated as I got into my rhythm. I was about a mile into my run down a narrow path when I was stopped in my tracks.  I was startled out of my trance by a sight that went beyond my wildest daydreams.  There, stock still as if waiting for me stood a white lamb.  He was in the middle of the path.  We stared at each other in the silence for what seemed a long time and then I took a step towards him. He took a step back.  I then took a couple steps back and he stepped forward.  We continued this dance at a progressively faster pace until we found ourselves running, chasing each other through the woods.  He was baaing and I was laughing my head off. On and on we went. I was leading and he was following when we came to the edge of the woods.  I kept on running into an open field. The lamb stopped.  I turned back a couple times and saw him frozen in place by the last tree, staring at me.

I got a lump in my throat that I can still feel forty years later. I turned my back and continued to blindly run away from him until I had to stop and turn around one more time.

He was gone.  

There was a clap of thunder as I turned back to search for him.  Then it began to rain a loud steady rain. I cursed myself as I bleated, “BAAA, BAAA!”  For an hour I searched….

I walked back to my dorm sopping wet.  I felt like I had failed some cosmic test.  Here, literally, was a lost lamb and I deserted him.

There was another part to my sadness that I didn’t immediately recognize.  I identified with that lost creature and wanted to be saved myself. 

So the years pass. Now, instead of focusing on a failure I can focus on the gift.  For that moment in time when I danced with the lamb I was as happy as I’ve ever been.  

Sometimes on cloudy days I’m back there, laughing all over again.

God bless that magic lamb.