Animals Discuss Church in the Field

Photo by Guillaume Meurice on

Covid 19 has led to many changes in our lives, for instance how our church meets. Indoors, we’re spaced further apart and wear masks. We also broadcast our services online. That’s all good, but since it’s Summer and the weather is pleasant, we decided to take advantage of it and have services in back of our church building, something we call, “Church in the Field.” For the last several weeks this enjoyable alternative has reminded us that necessity really is the mother of invention, and there’s no reason church can’t be fun, even in the middle of a pandemic. The neighbors in back of our church have a variety of farm animals that we get to see during our services. We’ve purposely left out slats in that rear section of chain link fence so we can see them, and so the animals form the backdrop to our outdoor services. At any given time one might see goats, chickens, or horses. Then, there’s one animal that we’ve seen up close while having church that, because of the way they operate, didn’t bother with checking us out from the other side of a fence. Although gophers do have a purpose in nature, most people consider them a pest, because of their tendency to produce random mounds of dirt in the landscape, in the process often destroying garden plants. Some church goers have taken videos of gophers happily tossing up hills of dirt while the service can be heard going on in the background. We haven’t had this much animal induced excitement during church since the “bats flying out of the belfry” incidents. All this causes me to wonder: What if the animals had their own story to tell? If they had some understanding of what was happening on our side of the fence, and could successfully communicate it, what would they say? Today, the first installment of, “Animals Discuss…”

Horse #1: I want to thank everyone for coming to the meeting tonight. It was really hot today and I know you guys are probably beat.
Goat #2: You said it. Even my hop is gone. I’m so drained. And you know us goats, we usually have hops for days!
Goat #1: H1, did you and H2 actually get to run in the surf at Centerville today?
Horse #1: It was glorious! G1, I hope you and the other goats get to run in the water the next time it gets super hot.
Goat #2: Not likely. The best we can hope for in the way of travel is getting lent out for landscaping. Mind you, I’m not complaining. I had a rose bush once. It got blamed on deer though, he said, snickering.
Chicken #1: I wanted to brief everyone on my notes from last week. I believe we’re continuing in Nehemiah, and if anyone missed it I’ll catch you up.
Thanks C1. Before you do that though, I think it’s important we hear from Gopher 2. Is it true you all are calling yourself the Underground Church?
Gopher 2: That’s not official. Although attending church can be hazardous at times (there was the tent stake incident). The risks we take don’t really rise to that level.

To be continued…

©Joel Tipple


Family0510 035

Clouds haven’t time to stop at all,
even if you’re enamored with their pattern.
You’re lucky if you have a camera nearby,
for your wish that they halt doesn’t matter.

Where must they go to be in such a hurry?
As rabbits and horses and other cloud
forms whisk away, it could cause one to worry.

Whole worlds of animals plants and mechanization
become other stories, while the one that impressed
us before develops its own culture and mores.

So the future is cloudy, that much I think is certain.
But that’s not a bad thing at all, nor is it a burden.

I’ll just keep watch until the next
form comes along. Maybe soon they’ll form up a band
and the wind will whip up a song.

© Joel Tipple

I’ll be there


Recently we put some bird feeders and a goldfinch thistle sock in the dogwood tree, along with a bird bath underneath it. They take some daily upkeep, but the return in entertainment has been huge. A bird splashing enthusiastically away is hilarious. I extended the perch on one of the feeders and so started getting many of the larger birds that don’t usually get invited to these things. As a result, there are several different birds that show up daily. There are the various songbirds, at least three pairs of doves, and a crowd of six or more of some very large birds that I have yet to identify. They show up like a biker gang with bad intent, gobble up as much as they can, and leave. On the bird feeder with the extended perch, there is one on either end, with a 3rd on the roof. Comical. This morning I was watching a blackbird pecking away at the ground, when a smallish juvenile walked up, squatted in front of the other bird, and opened its mouth wide. The bird equivalent of a teenager showing up and demanding to be fed. I don’t have the appropriate photo to go with this story. I’ll try to add one tomorrow.

dare me to follow you
I’ll be there and
for the time bear it too and
I’ll be there and
trust for a little time more
I’ll be there and
find what’s there in store

wait till Spring time
wait till Spring time

sun warming earth
morning giving birth
sun warming earth
sun warming earth

Sheep Drive

I’m told my grandfather,
who was on my mother’s side,
used to drive loads of sheep
from the saddle
on a sheep drive.
And when I say sheep drive,
I don’t mean the latest
Apple iteration…
You know,
like all those operating
named after wild animals.
I think they’re mostly

Back to our topic…

I don’t suppose he called them “doggies,”
the sheep,
that is.
But I’ll bet he had some great dogs,
the kind that pretty much did the job
on their own
without a lot of input from the guy on
the horse,
maybe just a finger point here or there
or some sort of code
known only to my grandfather
and the dog.

So he would drive
to the railroad terminal
where they would board the train
which would take them to market.
I wonder if they made it all the way
to San Francisco?
I wonder if they were told the trip
was sort of a fun
If they bought it, would that mean someone
had successfully pulled
the wool
over their eyes?

Xander’s Day

Down, off the couch and pad through the house.
Sniff the carpet.
The cat was here,
and here,
and here, here, here.
Sit. My collar goes back on, as if there were anyone in my world who didn’t know me. Funny thought, that.
Give the door a little nose bump, in case he doesn’t know it’s time for me to go out. Just in case.
Freedom! Whoops, turn around. Gotta eat. Get to eat. EAT!
Hey! Someone is walking by. Bark bark bark bark bark bark bark! My yard my yard my yard my yard.
Okayyyyy maintenance. Do my rounds. Gotta pee on that bush that tree that fence that fence that bush that tree that shoe… whoops! Sorry dude, my bad.
My TOY! Oh blessed God of play, my toy. My most favorite inanimate object in absolutely all the world.
It looks like a big rubbery jack and I am either dropping it and chasing it myself or he throws it for me.
Oh, I would do that for hours if he would let me! Much of the time it just sticks out of the corner of my mouth like the prototype drill sergeant with his cigar. You have to be ready.
Bark bark bark! My yard my yard my yard!
Pee more, drink more, pee more, drink more. It’s good for you, you know.
Wow… time for a break. The sun isn’t out yet, so I’ll go get in my doggy bed under the carport for a while.
Annnd, I’m up! My yard my yard my yard. He says it’s just an airplane, but what do I know? As far as I’m concerned, it’s just a big noisy bird that needs to know it’s… my yard my yard my yard.
A bee! Clop! My massive jaws miss again. Once, I actually caught one and it bit me! I still go after ’em though. Everything has to know this is my yard. It’s my job and I take it seriously. I’m important.
Run run run run run. I love to do that. I’m a gymnast too! Sometimes, when he throws my toy, I jump high in the air, and I could almost do a whole flip. It was easier when I was younger. A bird in the crab apple tree! My tree my tree my tree! They’ll never learn.
Work play eat sleep. Work play eat sleep. Am I getting the order right? It doesn’t matter. I’m a dog and I just do… What was it he called it? Oh yeah, what’s “instinctual.” Where do they come up with these funny words? The sun is out! Oh yeah. Time for a nap. Another stretch, and I’m down.
Back up.
My yard
After a while it’s time to go inside for the night. I go sit with them for the evening. Sometimes I get to share popcorn. She throws it for me and I pretend it’s a bee. Clop! That’ll teach you, popcorn!
Back to the couch, to dream.
My house! But I say it quietly.