A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.

Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Prayers in Easter: Psalm 23 again, sort of...

 My Lord, Shepherd of my life,
    You hear me, You know me. When I am most alone I can speak to You and You listen. I can rest in You and my soul is calmed. You enjoy my happiest moments with me. When I am lost, You come to find me. When I am afraid, You embrace me. My Lord, Shepherd of my life, sometimes You are the only one who knows my voice. You feed my heart. You feed my soul. I will follow You everywhere.  amen.  

   Psalm 23 speaks to us in the simplest of terms that belie the intricacy of its depth. The symbolism in this well-known Psalm is far more complex and fascinating than just the obvious image of a guy walking down a lane with a big staff and a dog, or the pretty girl of nursery rhymes with a bow on her crook as the sheep dutifully follow.  Taken line by line we can see, feel, and almost hear Jesus, our Shepherd, here with us, reviving, caring, comforting, and anointing. Watching over us, preparing our table, restoring us.  Nothing we need is withheld.  
       The demands on real living shepherds are constant and endless.  Sheep are peculiarly needy and helpless creatures, quite restive, and even self-destructive at times. They can stand still for hours or bolt into stampede because an apple drops unexpectedly from a tree. The shepherd must keep continuous vigil against disease, insect infestations, predators, pecking order fights, escape artists, water, and food supplies. Sheep will NOT lie down unless they are completely contented and secure. A special oil mixture that the shepherd prepares and swabs (anoints) around each sheep's head and nose keeps deadly insects from burrowing and causing panic, disease, and injury, and the sheep is calmed for a little while. Then there are shearing and lambing seasons...*
         A Good Shepherd's job is never done.

*I commend to you a charming and interesting little book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller, for a closer look at the connections between the Psalm's imagery and real life sheep farming.

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