Shepherd verses. Thoughts. Poetry. (December 2016)

Susan’s Thursday morning note December 8, 2016
Shepherd verses, thoughts, and poetry 

Good morning.  Clicking fingers and steam above mug.  Bright sunlight streaming across wood floor and furniture showing me in detail where my housekeeping skills fall short.  Mind trying to play a game of imagination.  Pretending the other side of my curtains there is a field.  A quiet field with the sun just having set.  Stars appearing above my trees.  My sheep all accounted for and sleeping together.  My fire pit sparkling.  Silence.  Stars are brighter than ever tonight.  On the other side of my curtains.  Pretending the time is midnight now.  I am restless.  My loyal best friend beside me raises his head and his ears perk.  The sky becomes bright.  Oh, so bright.  My friends awake.  We are speechless.  Music.  Music as we have never heard, only imagined we would someday hear in a king’s court or in heaven.  Imagining from my table in Nebraska.  I am there.  The entire sky is filled with angels.  They are real.  I never knew if they were only a story or real.  They are everywhere and their music surrounds us.  Oh, are we in heaven?  No, I see my sheep.  They are not scared, but all looking upward and calmed by the music.  My dog.  Not scared.  His eyes brighter than all eyes.  My friends.  Dare I look their way and find my dream ends?  Let me keep imagining.  I look to my friends.  They have their rods with pointy ends ready to protect their lambs, but they are now letting these rods fall.  All eyes shining.  I have never seen my friends with such faces.  Absolute incredulity. 

What is the song I am hearing?  What are words?  Let me imagine I am still there.  Let me not be interrupted in my imagination for another moment…I hear the words.  They are pure joy.  A baby?  A baby where?  A baby right near us?  A baby at the stable we just stayed near a few days ago?  The stable next to our friend’s inn?  Oh, a king?  God’s son?  Angels in a split moment are gone.  Silence.  Stars.  Incredulation.  Did we truly just experience this?  Was I dreaming?  I look to my friends.  We all start speaking faster than we ever have…God’s son!  Oh, how we ran.  Some of us grabbed our little ewes under our arms and ran as if we had no injuries.  We could see easily because the sky still was lit from stars.  The stable…I see the light through the small window…oh, we are almost there…God’s son.  A little baby….Shhhhhhh.  We are about to enter…

A little knight just entered my reality. The sunlight streaming across the table has moved so I now see no dust.  Maybe that was also my imagination (grin).  I would like to write out for you some words on shepherds.  Words in verses, poetry, and a short story.  Strength.  Caring.  Shepherd.  What a beautiful strong word.  Shepherds were usually the youngest in a family, caring for their father’s livestock.  A responsibility with honor.  These shepherds were given the great gift of being invited into the stable.  Showing the importance of their care to our creator.  To the father of the baby child.  He respected their position to such a degree he let enter the stable. 

I read several versions of the following scene comparing two readings of Psalm 23 to an audience.  A great leader/orator read the Psalm with such eloquence he received loud applause from the crowd.  Following an old man stood and stillness came across the room.  He then proceeded to quietly speak Psalm 23.  At the end of his recitation silence remained with quiet tears on cheeks of many.  When asked why the different response from the crowd the original speaker said, “I know the 23rd Psalm, but that man knows the shepherd.”

Isaiah 40:11  He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

The Shepherd by William Blake (1789)

How sweet is the Shepherd’s sweet lot
From the morn to the evening he strays; 
He shall follow his sheep all the day,
And his tongue shall be filled with praise.

For he hears the lamb’s innocent call,
And he hears the ewe’s tender reply;
He is watchful while they are in peace,
For they know when their Shepherd is nigh.

Psalm 23 Spanish  (Salmos 23)
Jehova es mi pastor; nada me faltara.   En lugares de delicados pastos me hara descansar junto a aguas de reposo me pastoreara.  Confortara mi alma; me guiara por sendas de justicia por amor de su nombre.  Unque ande en valle de sombra de muerte, no temere mal alguno, porque tu estaras conmigo; tu vara y tu cayado me infundiran aliento.  Aderezas mesa delante de mi en presencia de mis angustiadores; unges mi cabeza con aceite; mi copa esta rebonsando.  6) Ciertamente el bien y la misericordia me seguiran todos los dias de mi vida, y en la casa de Jehova morare por largos dias.con aceite; mi copa está rebosando.  Ciertamente el bien y la misericordia me seguiran todos los dias de mi vida, y en la casa de Jehova morare por largos dias.

Psalm 23 in German (Ein Psalm Davids)
Der Herr ist mein Hirte; mir wird nichts mangein.  Er weidet mich auf gruner Aue und fuhret mich zum frischen Wasser.  Er erquicket meine Seele; er fuhret mich auf rechter Straise um seinse Namens willen.  Und ob ich schon wanderte im finsterm Tal, furchte ich kein Ungluck; denn du bist bei mir, dein Stecken und dein Stab trosten mich.  Du bereitest vor mir einen Tisch im Angesicht meiner Feinde.  Du salbest mein Haupt mit Ol und schenkest mir voll ein.  Gutes und Barmherzigkeit werden mir olgen mein Leben lang, und ich werde bleiben im Hause des Herrn immerdar.

Psalm 23 in Latin:
Dominus pascit me, et nihil mihi deerit: in pascuis virentibus me collocavit, super aquas quietis eduxit me, animan meam refecit.  Deduxit me super semitas iustitiae propter nomen suum.  Nam et si ambulavero in valle umbrae mortis, non timebo mala, quoniam tu mecum es.  Virga tua et aculus tuus, ipsa me consolata sunt.  Parasti in conspectu meo mensam adversus eos, qui tribulant me; impinguasti in oleo caput meum, et calix meus redundat.  Etenim benignitas et misericordia subsequentur me omnibus diebus itae meae, et inhabitabo in domo Domini in longitudinem dierum.

"One of the Shepherds” by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Author of Anne of Green Gables)

We were out on the hills that night To watch our sheep;
Drowsily by the fire we lay Where the waning flame did flicker and leap,
And some were weary and half asleep, And some talked low of their flocks and the fright Of a lion that day.

But I had drawn from the others apart; I was only a lad,
And the night's great silence so filled my heart That I dared not talk and I dared not jest;
The moon had gone down behind the hill And even the wind of the desert was still;
As the touch of death the air was cold, And the world seemed all outworn and old;
Yet a poignant delight in my soul was guest, And I could not be sad.

Still were my thoughts the thoughts of youth Under the skies:
I dreamed of the holy and tender truth That shone for me in my mother's eyes;
Of my little sister's innocent grace, And the mirthful lure in the olive face
Of a maid I had seen at the well that day, Singing low as I passed that way,
And so sweet and wild were the notes of her song, That I listened long.

Was it the dawn that silvered and broke Over the hill?
Each at the other looked in amaze, And never a breathless word we spoke.
Fast into rose and daffodil Deepened that splendor; athwart its blaze
That pierced like a sword the gulf of night We saw a form that was shaped of the light,
And we veiled our faces in awe and dread To hearken the tidings the Bright One told­
Oh! wonderful were the words he said­ Of a Child in Bethlehem's manger old.

The stars were drowned in that orient glow The sky was abloom like a meadow in spring;
But each blossom there was a radiant face And each flash of glory a shining wing;
They harped of peace and great good will, And such was their music that well I know
There can never again in my soul be space For a sound of ill. 

The light died out as the sunset dies In the western skies;
Swift went we to the Bethlehem khan, Many our questions laughed to scorn,
But one, a gray and wrinkled man, With strange, deep eyes that searched the heart,
Led us down to the child new-born In a dim-lighted cave apart.

There on the straw the mother lay Wan and white,
But her look was so holy and rapt and mild That it seemed to shed a marvelous light,
Faint as the first rare gleam of day, Around the child.

It was as other children are Saving for something in the eyes,
Star like and clear and strangely wise­ Then came a sudden thought to me
Of a lamb I had found on the waste afar; Lost and sick with hunger and cold,
I had brought it back in my arms to the fold For tender ministry.

Dawn had flooded the east as a wave When we left the cave;
All the world suddenly seemed to be Young and pure and joyous again;
The others lingered to talk with the men, Full of wonder and rapture still;
But I hastened back to the fold on the hill to tend the lamb that had need of me.

We enter another season of viewing the nativity from the covers of storybooks to the scenes in front yards.  The shepherds present.  Watching.  Giving peacefulness and caregiving to the quiet beautiful scene.  Rugged.  Tender.  Observant.  Intuitive.  Invited into this sacred celebration.  Invited by the angels.  How honored they must be by God to have them receive the first invitation.  To look into the baby eyes and see signs of wisdom.  To have the outlook on the world now being young again.  They think of their lambs.  Hastening back to their responsibilities.  To their caregiving of their little lambs.  I think.  My mind can go so many places in the moments handed to me today.  Verses to play in my mind over an over for life.  My choice to send my mind this direction.  Isaiah 40:11.  He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.  Psalm 18:16,19.  He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters…he brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. 

Thank you for letting me again enter your Thursday.  This beautiful season full of emotions hard to concisely put into words.  Joy.  Sadness.  Beauty.  Loneliness.  Bells.  Silence.  Laughter.  Crying.  Memories.  Future hope and plans.  Wrinkled faces and hands.  Babies.  God.  Baby.  All words that intertwine yet make thoughts hard to express.  Today.  Our gift.  Handed to us by our own angel of dawn.  Priceless if we know it may be taken from us.  Tonight we will have the chance to write in stone words for the moments we will never be handed again.  Will we have moments worthy of inscription?  Will we look into eyes?  Will we look to the heavens?  Will we care for our own thoughts and have words crossing our minds of our Shepherd?  Delights in us.  Reaches down.  Takes hold.  Delights.  What a beautiful word.  Delights.  Have a beautiful inward day regardless of some of your cares.  Life is beautiful.  So beautiful.  The birds were created to sing for you today.  Will you hear them?  Susan

Latin for this week:
Domini est terra et plenitudo eius – The Lord is my shepherd
curantis – caregiver
oves – sheep