Les Patterson’s Monday Morning Boost: A Shepherd, whose watch, we also keep

  • Christmas is magical! I love the excitement, wonder, and fun! I love decorating the tree, wrapping presents, and singing carols. I love letters to Santa and hints from children. I love the anticipation on Christmas Eve and the enthusiasm on Christmas morning. I love feeling like a kid again.

    I love our family tradition of counting down the days with tiny chocolate pieces, Santa slowly dropping down a wooden chimney, and reading a story from our overflowing basket of Christmas books. I love watching the reruns of the age-old Christmas shows. My favorites are “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Mr. Kruger’s Christmas,” both featuring Jimmy Stewart. Of course, I also love “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

    I love the music of Christmas, the fun and jolly, the inspirational and sacred.

    I love the story of a Baby born in a manager, the shepherds who followed a star, and the wise men who sought Him from afar. I love the peace and joy I feel because of that wondrous, beautiful night so long ago.

    I love sharing Christmas stories, and today I share again the story of the Christmas I spent in Iraq. It’s one of my most memorable Christmases. As we remember those serving in harm’s way around the world, and as you remember your own loved ones who are unable to be home for Christmas, it’s seems fitting I share this story again.

    It’s true story of a shepherd who had a flock of sheep. I hope you’ll enjoy. Merry Christmas!



    DECEMBER 21, 2015
    Les Patterson’s Monday Morning Boost:
    A Shepherd, whose watch, we also keep

    Christmas morning 2004 found me standing watch in a guard tower in middle Iraq. The weather was cold and rainy. The desert sand had turned to mud and clung to our boots with weighted force. We lived in old caravan-type tents which did little to keep the rain out. The field showers were most always cold. The days were long, tensions were high, and I was lonely and missing my family.

    We had crossed the berm into Iraq just a few days previous and made our home at FOB MacKenzie, a forward operating base near the Tigris River and the Iraqi city of Ad Duluiyah. We were welcomed to Iraq with fierceness as within days three of our soldiers were wounded in an RPG attack on their Humvee.

    Christmas Eve I attended my first ever Catholic mass. My new friend Sgt. Luis Armijo invited me and we met in a hastily constructed small tin shed that served as the base chapel. An Army Chaplain/Catholic Priest flew in on a Blackhawk for the service. We prayed and sang carols. I waited while the priest blessed my friend. Afterwards, Armijo presented me with a St. Michaels medal, St. Michael being the patron saint of the warrior, which he asked the priest to bless on my behalf. He promised me I would make it home to my family if I would wear it every day in faith. I wore it every day, I made it home, and St. Michael is still with me.

    The following day, Christmas morning, Armijo and I were standing watch in the first guard tower on the main road to the base. There was always lots of traffic and we knew the possibility of danger was high. We watched with vigilance and trusted no one. For days we had been closely watching a man with a bunch of sheep roaming the open expanse in front of us. Was he a potential threat, we wondered, or just another Iraqi with a bunch of sheep. Christmas morning the answer came. As I watched him through field glasses, his actions magnified, I noticed his peculiar trait of herding his flock of sheep. He didn’t chase them, as I did in my youth, nor hit them with his staff, nor yell at them. Rather, as I finally observed this Christmas morning, he walked in front and the sheep followed. Though his voice I could not hear, I seemed to sense his soft calls singing out. He knew his sheep, they knew his voice, and they knew their shepherd.

    My mind was cast clear of worry and my heart rejoiced in the love of another Shepherd whose birth we celebrate this Christmas season. Tears of gratitude, hope and peace filled my aching soul and no longer did this lonely sheep feel cold and all alone that Christmas morning.

    Have a great Monday, and a Merry Christmas! Thanks for letting me share.

    Les Patterson

    p.s. Take 13 minutes today to share a Christmas story of your own.

    A Shepherd, whose watch, we also keep He was just another Iraqi Who had a flock of sheep. A threat to us? We wondered Or to those whose watch we keep? Wary eyes, and trained machine guns Watched his every move. With triggers at the ready Guarded sentinels sought to prove. For just days previous Wary eyes were not enough. As pains awarded Purple Hearts Tore into three of us. Was he just another Iraqi Who had a flock of sheep? Or something more, a threat To those whose watch we keep? Christmas morning, 2004 Middle Iraq, Samarra Region. Posts were guarded, sentinels stood Silent prayers our fervent chaplain. Glasses magnify Eyes behold. A whispering wind The tale unfolds. He was just another Iraqi Who had a flock of sheep. But now, to us, something more And to those whose watch we keep. A shepherd’s voice We silently heard. Calling, leading, His flock to herd. Another Shepherd This Christmas day. His voice we also heard As silently we prayed. He was just another Iraqi Who had a flock of sheep. But now, to us, something more A shepherd, whose watch, we also keep. Les Patterson December 2010 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Les Patterson loves to share stories and the “Monday Morning Boost” is his way of sharing a story or two with family, friends, and clients. Les believes every person, business and organization has a story worth sharing. Since 1997 he has enjoyed finding compelling ways to share those stories through writing and producing radio commercials at the Cache Valley Media Group. Discover how he can help tell your story at www.CacheValleyMediaGroup.com. Feedback and comments are welcome at les@cvradio.com. ©2015, Les Patterson. All Rights Reserved. To UNSUBSCRIBE, reply to this email with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line and your email will be removed.