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Where there is no vision the people perish

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FINAL ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES

He used to walk this mile much faster, with strong, purposeful strides; but he could never outrun time and now, tired from the journey of the years, his footprints did not sink as deep as they used to and his steps were slow and gentle. Nevertheless, his trusted water-boots, though not as strong as they once were, still carried him into the silence of the mountain; the cutlass that had made permanent pathways, though not as sharp as it was in times past, still made his walk easier; and the voice that once filled the hills with its echo, though not as loud as it used to be, was still firm enough to lead his sheep.{{more}}

He said hello to Mrs Cane who paused her sweeping of the yard to wave. He was almost sure that he had passed her sweeping her yard every morning for the last twenty years. Hers was the last house on the trail that led to the mountain. Then there was nothing but God and the serenity of the hills.

It was normally easier to herd the sheep once they were in the mountain; however today they seemed to be unusually skittish and he hadn’t gone very far when he realised that one of his seven was missing. He sighed heavily and his eyes immediately did a 360 degrees sweep of the area; but the wayward sheep was nowhere in sight. Finally he decided to tie the other six and search for the missing one.

He retraced his steps all the way to the village; but the animal was nowhere to be found. Then he began, wearily, back into the mountain. An hour later he was about to give up his search when he heard a distant bleat. He sprang up and followed the cry of despair to the edge of a cliff where he found his missing sheep, wounded and tangled in a thorn bush. The farmer carefully removed the sheep, then held her in his arms and began the journey back to his flock.

As he walked with the now silent animal, he found himself, as he sometimes did, talking to the sheep.

“You rascal! See what yo waywardness cost me…. almost a whole day’s work. And ah had to leave the others by themself, with dem dutty criminals around.” The old man shook his head.

“Wayward… just like my Michael… me firstborn… he was such a bright boy in school. Used to get everything right. But he had to go and mix-up himself with them vagabonds,” his eyes began to moisten.

“Imagine having to bury your own child and is not because the good Lord call him; but because he follow the devil straight into the path of a bullet.

Then me last girl in America she used to call us every week… now is nearly a year since we hear from she. We don’t even have phone to call since them cut off we phone. Last time she mother call she on a card from by Miss Kato, first ting she say is that she lost she job because of the recession up there an she ain’t have nothing to give us – as if we calling to beg she.

But God is good, I still have me boy Johnny. He trying to get by with his cart business in town. His wife not working either and they really struggling to make ends meet; but at least he making a honest living and ah does give him some ground provision every week to help out,” he stopped for a while to catch his breath.

“The land still giving us plenty but sometimes we can’t even get the produce sell. Christine can’t manage to go down to Trinidad no more and people not buying on Market days. Georgie down the road sending his things overseas through Fairtrade but he have money to put toilet up in the bushes and all the other tings they asking him to do, “ he paused again to rest.

“Tings hard… but God is good. Right now everybody fighting about some kind of constitutional reform. As usual, instead of people sit down and look at what is best for de country in these hard times of earth’s history, is all about dey party. But anyway, what do I know bout them tings? I am just a old farmer with a dimming vision,” he chuckles

“And as far as I could see you is just a sheep,” he says as he reached to the clearing where the other six sheep were patiently waiting.

In the Bible there is a story of a shepherd who had a hundred sheep and lost one. He left the ninety nine to go in search of that precious sheep. As the series comes to an end I would like to declare that our greatest heritage is that whilst we were yet sinners God came looking for us and gave his life for us. If, as a nation, we do not accept this and allow our visions to be spiritually inspired and lead, we are in big trouble.

My final words to you are taken from proverbs WHERE THERE IS NO VISION THE PEOPLE PERISH.

Ava Browne is a Vincentian freelance journalist and creative writer based in the United Kingdom.

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