I’m currently living in a tiny little village in Switzerland consisting of only twenty houses, meaning twenty souls including me, surrounded by mountains on 5000 feet up height. It’s complete off-season – November is not attracting so many people to visit such a place – therefore it’s really quiet. Beyond all myths of this month the sun followed me here. It’s incredible! Blue sky, the top of the mountains covered with a little white snow veil already and it’s beautifully shimmering in the light; the temperature of the day is so that I can do my afternoon walk only in a t-shirt. I feel blessed everyday when I wake up, open the curtains and just see, feel this massive power of the mountains so close that I simply can step out of the door and be in it.
At this time of the year, as it is off-season, the sheep are allowed to graze freely and can move around wherever they want. It’s so funny to watch them in the morning from my writing table and out of the big window that reaches the floor. They often are only a few meters away from the house I’m living in on the mountain greens, sometimes staring at me and wondering probably what she’s doing there. They are happily jumping around, baaing and always searching for the next and better green spot wherever they can find it – in front of the doors of the white chapel in the middle of village, at the borders of the pebble paths and the flyway up to our community or between the sun loungers of the cozy cabin restaurant of Anke and Carlo, a couple from Zurich at my age that decided for good to live here in this close connection with nature and silence.
Observing these sheep every day in the morning really had an affect on me. Actually, how nature can always reveal us a deeper understanding.
You see these sheep and how they move forward is in a way that always one runs ahead. The others – seemingly without looking left or right – just follow. They also never separate very far from each other; they like staying with their tribe, so to say, which is nice, no? We all need our tribe and find like-minded people with who we can fully blossom and expand. The first days of looking at this repeating scene I had to smile. Is it really that simple, I was asking myself? One runs ahead and all the others follow? On the one hand, seeing them all together there in their crowd with the ever same and simple ways of being in this world, gave me a warm feeling. On the other hand, after some days of observing and looking at it from a human perspective, I had this sudden feeling of hm, it can also be a very dangerous thing – following blindly and not making up your own mind, not having an opinion and standing up for that even if it means that you find yourself opposite of the mainstream. Well, sheep, lucky them, don’t have the human mind that can be in many moments the source of great noise and disturbance within us. At the same time, our mind can be a great instrument if we use it and choose for it wisely.
Probably this whole deeper dimension of reflecting this scene happened also because a dear friend of mine had drawn my attention on an article in the German newspaper Die Zeit this week. It was about the refugees in Europe and a camp in Slovenia written by a brave young German journalist who went there to document it. What originally started for her with the attempt to make a reportage turned out to become the task of a key mediator between the refugees from Lebanon and the armed police that was with the convoy.
The situation she described in the article was so shocking that it made me cry and still does when I think about it, also writing now these lines. Instead of the expected 5000 people arriving that day there came 15000. No food, no water, no blankets in the night, no shelter, just fences to keep them together and a plain grass floor to stand on, not even to lie as there was no space. I felt like having a déjà-vu from very dark days of our own history. It made me despair and I also somehow felt helpless in this moment. The dimension of this actual ethnographical uprooting in all directions is beyond all our ideas and conceptions at this point in time. Why do some people have so immeasurable a lot and for others there is not even a hot thermos flask to warm the feet of a baby? This is what crossed my mind at first and of course, it’s not a question to ask, as things would be different if they would meant to be from a higher level. And it seems that we, as humans, only learn, evolve and grow – wake up – through the terror, the suffering and the pain.
The lotus – such a beautiful, unique blossom and a universal symbol for purity, creation and awakening – it grows in mud. Horror and light, so close together, that one can only be humble towards that what is always greater than us and beyond our will and stay as aware and truthful as we can with our Selves.
And this brings me back to the sheep and the simple teaching that I, once again, got out of nature and our wonderful animal fellows.
I realized once more by observing the sheep that it’s not either/or, black or white, good or bad. It’s this very fine line in-between where actually revolutions take place and anything can happen depending on the direction we choose; it’s as wonderful as it is to have a community and to feel like being guided as long as we are not doing it out of fear and insecurity. To be aware of that within oneself requires a great deal of honesty in every moment and also the big courage and strength to step out and not follow the herd anymore or any conventions only because we have been told certain things our whole life. Possibly, for a while, we might feel like the black sheep. But sometimes, actually not only sometimes when I look at the spectacle outside there every morning, the black sheep is the one that, at the end, makes all the difference!
I wish us all to open our hearts even wider, listen deeper, stay with our truth and act from that understanding out of the presence of the now.
Have a great weekend!