Posted by: HAT | December 26, 2014

What Does it Mean to be a Shepherd?

expressionist image of a shepherdess resting on a bale of hay with sheep in background

Die Schäferin (the shepherd, fem.)

Hi, Gang!

The morning after a big holiday; there is driving on the agenda; a “change of shift” that has to do with keeping the dogs out of boarding, while making sure Number One Daughter gets to spend lots of time with family over the break.

This is a poem, reasonably appropriate to the season and occasion, by Theodosia Garrison (1874-1944):

There are in Paradise
Souls neither great nor wise,
Yet souls who wear no less
The crown of faithfulness.

My master bade me watch the flock by night;
My duty was to stay. I do not know
What thing my comrades saw in that great light,
I did not heed the words that bade them go,
I know not were they maddened or afraid;
I only know I stayed.

The hillside seemed on fire; I felt the sweep
Of wings above my head; I ran to see
If any danger threatened these my sheep.
What though I found them folded quietly,
What though my brother wept and plucked my sleeve,
They were not mine to leave.

Thieves in the wood and wolves on the hill,
My duty was to stay. Strange though it be,
I had no thought to hold my mates, no will
To bid them wait and keep the watch with me.
I had not heard that summons they obeyed;
I only know I stayed.

Perchance they will return upon the dawn
With word of Bethlehem and why they went.
I only know that watching here alone,
I know a strange content.
I have not failed that trust upon me laid;
I ask no more — I stayed.

I think this poem sentimental, which is not to say I can’t relate to it. I just like to avoid sweets. I had a different poem in mind to share, something about shepherds and sheep and hills and the dark, but I couldn’t remember the title, or the author, or anything about it beyond the impression it had made on me once. I am sure I am not the only person that has ever happened to. Or rather, and maybe a little uncharitably, I hope not.

Apparently, I am going to contact the Committee on Preparation for Ministry of the Presbytery of Ohio Valley and see if I can get “under care,” and look into the possibility of ordination. It’s funny how these things happen. Sometimes people get the idea that they are supposed to do something. My experience has been that when that happens, it is a good idea to pay attention.


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