Ode to the Black Sheep

As I begin to put away holiday décor, the lingering piece I have on my coffee table is the Black Sheep Tree. It seems that the tree represents such a timeless sentiment of feeling outcast that I’m having a hard time wrapping it up in tissue. A client recently commented on it. It was bathed in the early winter light and caught her lingering attention. She finally said, “That is just so… apropos. Wherever did you find it?”

Black Sheep Tree © tara cousineau

The tree is a small wiry, sprig, with soft white sheep alighted on the branches. There is a lone black sheep tethered to the trunk, looking up with longin.” I don't know too many people  – or anybody really – who doesn’t feel like an outsider, or misunderstood, or lonely at some point or another. Who doesn’t want to feel love and acceptance? I see this right now with my daughters where conformity means survival of middle school.

Even when the drive to “fit in” no longer appeals, we still measure ourselves by our own yard sticks, now internalized and seeped in our subconscious. It’s that struggle between wanting to be unique, or maybe even being a renegade, yet all the while wanting acknowledgement and acceptance. 

It takes courage to be a black sheep. It takes some mettle to experience vulnerability, nerve to make your own path and be true to your heart. It can be lonely. January is a “reset” month for me:  to appreciate the growing pains of the last year, to acknowledge the gifts that present themselves each and every day, and to aspire to my dreams.

Reminders come in all sorts of ways, as it did recently. There is a yoga teacher who I find particularly grounded and earthy. It is not often I can get to her class but I look forward to her graceful presence when I can. What I enjoy about her teaching is that instead of imposing some little life lesson at the end of the hour, she simply leaves a quote on a piece of paper to take or leave. I find it a beautiful way to end a class and reneter the world. This time however, she placed mini water bottles at the end of our mats during the final rest, savasana. It was thoughtful in this season of giving. On the bottle was her take-way quote; she had printed it on a label. Her choice was not unfamiliar to me, but at the moment it was … well, so apropos:

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.

-St. Theresa of Lisieux

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