Had it been reported a day later, I would have dismissed it as being a worthy example of an April fools’ tradition. Since I read it on the 31st March, in that reputable recorder of online news that is the Guardian, I have to accept that it’s true: the goats are taking over Llandudno.
There’s been a herd of wild goats on the Great Orme (the hill overlooking the town), for many years. Finding things quieter in this eerie time of lockdown, the goats have ventured into the town where they congregate at road junctions and forage in gardens after dark.
I wonder whether the new powers granted to Police now include ASBO’s for goats who seemed to be helping themselves to late night snacks from local hedges. Mind you, I did notice from the accompanying video clip, that they were exercising appropriate social distancing as they walked almost 2 metres apart down the street.
Enforced isolation for whatever reason means we are seeing and hearing things differently, as well as seeing and hearing different things. It’s noticeably quieter along Whitworth Road, my usual 5.30 am alarm of the early shift going up to Honda is noticeably absent. For the first time for several years, a Robin is joining me as I dig: he seems very happy with his beak filled with the worms and insects the fresh soil reveals. Bird song seems clearer and much more common: I wonder though whether it’s been there all the time but it’s drowned by other noise.
What’s really different for you and I at the moment? The privations of isolation aside, how can we turn this to our profit – to take a leaf from the goats’ book (don’t try it, they’ve got big horns), what opportunities are we finding to build ourselves and others up?
Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long (Psalm 25: 4 – 5)
Some things will come quickly to mind, though there are others where we will need to take the time to work out what’s necessary, as well as what’s important. Many of us have a lot more of a very valuable and precious commodity on our hands now than we may have had for many years: I’m talking here about time. Something we chase after, love to fill but something that’s impossible to buy, even in the most well stocked supermarkets.
“Show” and “guide” imply a hands on approach is needed, as well as a light touch. God has demonstrated His love for us in Christ, He has shown us the way to live in the Micah challenge (Micah 6:8). He also invites us – in both the Old and New Testaments - to explore what wisdom looks like. To fully grasp that we have to take on board what God teaches us through the scriptures, as well as what He shows us through the life and work of Jesus.
At a time when the rumour mill is grinding faster than ever, it’s important to decide on the basis of truth, not fiction. That’ll affect the way we live because it determines the choices we make.
Let’s take a leaf from the goats’ book: let’s make the most of the opportunity we have to go beyond the places we’ve been to find where our real satisfaction lies. It’s not taking over a town but it’s allowing God to take over us.