The boy, as soon as he was old enough to hold a gun, eagerly watched over the sheep at night. Like all young he wanted to get amongst it. Looking back it was one of the few times he was, and knew he was, needed.
The job was simple, base if you will. The sheep were corralled at night in rustic wooden yards, and as long as the sheep were kept calm and didn't break out, through agitated fright, the dogs very presence did most of the work.
Dog was not an adequate word to describe what was an only just domesticated wolf. It howled and bayed as the fluxes of this world rubbed against its core, producing an audible aurora akin to the light show named after Boreas.
In succession the tribe children gave it a name. And in succession, each name, unable to find a hold in the dogs thick fur, would fall, like the muck it wondered through, to the ground. The smudged, tarnished and named being would retire each evening to arise every morning as white, pure and never before named as new fallen snow.
The gun was a badge of office that sullied the position it marked only if used. Yes, it was to be cleaned and polished and yes, to ensure its true aim, occasionally fired. But, unspoken, was that at no time was the gun expected to be fired in anger as this action would devalue and lessen the Shepard's very skill.
Those that went before knew this true of any strong hand, it only holding strength until the hand is forced to fall. Then, with intent shaken from its footings, possibility drifts, forlorn. Replaced by an all to familiar, and human, mess.
As each wave reclines or forces itself over the land, discarding those before like dirty linen, adorning itself in the honest and ridiculous belief that their 'clothes' are newer than the emperor's, the Shepard's remain Shepard's. They may be told, or choose, to face the mountains, or the sea to pray but their being is, and is reinforced by, looking to their flock.
One of their joys, the Shepard's, and one of their sorrows is that they are overlooked. When the man who dismisses you for your base vocation is holding, in terror, a gun, then to be overlooked is a joy.
When the man, who again dismissing your vocation is representing the legislate, and that legislate is told by the numbers that things don't add up and by taking from you they magically will, this is a sorrow.
What's worse it's that this is a sorrow I'm sorry to tell you I can't prove. All I can do is observe:
I do not know what the dog knows but the dog knows something I do not. I know It knows far more than its name.
I can't tell you why we have guns but I can tell you why they don't want to be used.
I can not tell you what the Shepard's sees, I can not tell you what the Shepard's hear, nor can I tell you what they feel. Why not, for as you know, I was once a shepherd. I can tell you what they know is because they are closer to nature than most.
Aristotle's made a destination between what is better known to us and what is better known to nature. I say turn to nature, to little good you'll find, for you'll need the Shepard, or his like, to interpret.
And we, who so pride our minds.
"In nature there's no blemish but the mind.
None can be called deformed but the unkind."
The Shepard boy cannot be separate from the Shepard. As neither can the dog nor the gun be separated from what the Shepard represents, from what he is.
I can whistle a dog, so can many. I can carry and shoot a gun, so can many. Of these many few can call themselves a Shepard.
In the past I was honored to be a shepherd and it is because of what a shepherd is, and the honor I hold them in, that I can no longer call myself one.