The One With the Pilgrim and the Goat

I keep a mental list called, “The Things I Didn’t Learn in Seminary.†It is a long list. At the top is “Dress Up Like A Pilgrim and Herd Goats.†My four years in seminary (most people do it in three) was understandably not enough time to learn how to be a pastor. As with all vocations we learn most through on the job training. But, I never dreamed that the job would include pilgrims and goats.

Each year at CCH we hold a Pilgrim Thanksgiving Festival. Through this we honor our Pilgrim ancestors, provide a fun event for families, and make a little money. From its inception we have attempted to give historically accurate information about the pilgrims. This means we dress as pilgrims—in a homemade costume sort of effort. Another is to borrow some animals from a local dairy to provide a rural village feeling. These include ducks, sheep and goats.

Just before last year’s festival opened I was concerned that the goat could escape by climbing up a hay bail. (Some other time I will retell the story of the great goat escape of 2002.) So I opened the gate to go into the pen and make adjustments. The goat, seeing the opening, decided to make a dash for freedom, right through my legs.

Now, I must explain that this was a small goat. It wasn’t much taller than my knees. And, I am completely inexperienced at goat handling.

I reacted as I would if my dog were trying to escape. I reached down to grab him around the neck. As I did the goat raised his head—with this very rough and hard horns—I don’t know if this was open resistance on the goat’s part, or just trying to see what was going on.

Later, in the emergency room, the plastic surgeon asked what had happened as he prepared to stitch up the cuts to my eyebrow and nose. It was a sure test of his nerves that he did such a good job while laughing at my story.

The truly amazing part of this event is that the insurance companies got involved trying to decide who should pay my medical bills. It was finally decided (after 8 months and two hearings) that this was a worker’s compensation case as it happened in the course of my work.

I tell this story as a promotional for this year’s festival. You don’t want to miss it, because you never know what will happen. You don’t have to be scared—we have declared the church a “Goat Free Zone.†(Actually, this was an executive decision by yours truly.) The festival is a fun day for everyone involved.

For church folks looking to help out—we have several needs. Sue Cove is collecting coffee cans for the children’s crafts. Liz North needs pinecones and baskets for another table. Laura Buda is making the solicitations for the back sale. We also have plenty of volunteer opportunities beginning with set-up on Friday afternoon. You can sign up at the church, or send me an email and I’ll make sure you have a fun (and safe) job.

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