Ox and Ass Before Him Fall
( a Christmas story )
It was the day before Christmas and I had been working most of it putting a post and overhead wire between my two sheep barns. These barns are on one side of a driveway which separates the sheep side from the barn and yard which I use for the oxen on the opposite side. The ox barn is connected to a couple of fields a good distance uphill to the south, which function as hay and pasture sources during the summer. This year we are still waiting for snow, so the grazing has been good up there with a heavy growth of aftermath left from the summer’s hay crop. The oxen have been staying in these fields, eating the sweet fall grass and sleeping on the pine needles in the adjacent woods. On most mornings I lure them down to the barn with treats and by calling with my ” come boss ” call. Usually I have to walk part way up the hill to get them started down. When they come down to the stall, they get a scoop of sweet feed after which, if I don’t have any work for them, they wander back up to the pastures and woods for the rest of the day and night.
It had been a sunny but cold day and as I worked I had to occasionally pocket my hands to warm them up. It was late and I was trying to complete the job before I went up to the house for the evening. I knew Grandmolly had a nice roast in the oven and was looking forward to our Christmas evening together. The wood stove would be going and the heat would quickly warm me up as we shared our gifts. So when I finished, I hurried to pick up my tools and ladder. The twilight was quickly settling in the valley and the brighter of the evening stars were beginning to accumulate in the sky off to the east. It was going to be a clear and cold night.
Walking to the truck in the driveway, I was surprised to see Thunder and Lightning, my faithful oxen, standing in front of the manger with that longing look they usually have. A look that I have grown used to, as they patiently wait for whatever is next. Tears of moisture formed in my eyes and a flood of emotion in my heart as I saw them and the scene which unfolded in my mind. Why did they come down on their own, to the manger, on this special evening? An old Christmas hymn flashed through my mind: ” Ox and ass before Him bow for He is in the manger now…”. They stayed all night and were waiting still, in the morning, when I went down for morning chores.
The wonders of Christmas, may they be yours this season as well. Merry Christmas.