Sunday, May 10, 2009


A friend of mine traveling in Syria relates how he stopped to watch three shepherds who were by a well watering their flocks. The three flocks were all mingled together at the watering place. My friend could not see anything different between them, and he wondered how they could get them all separated again without much trouble. But when one of the shepherds stood forth and called out, "Menah!" the Arabic for "Follow me," and sure enough, some thirty sheep immediately separated themselves from the indiscriminate mass and began to follow the shepherd up the hill. Then, a second shepherd lifted the same cry, "Menah!" and a second flock separated themselves and started after him, while the rest of the sheep remained as unconcerned as if no one had spoken at all.

My friend was so astonished that as he saw the third shepherd preparing to leave, laying his hand to his crook and beginning to gather some dates fallen from a palm beneath which he had been resting, he stepped up to him and asked, "Would your sheep follow me if I called them?" The man shook his head left to right and vice versa. "May I borrow your shepherd's cloak and crook and let me try?" My friend said that he even wound the shepherd's turban round his head and standing forth began to cry, "Menah! Menah!" but not a single sheep moved. They only blinked at him lazily in the sunshine. "Do they never follow anyone but you?" asked my friend. "Only when a sheep is sick, then the silly creature follows anyone, false shepherds included," the shepherd replied.

Whose voice are you following?

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