Sunday, April 29, 2007

My sheep hear my voice

During a brief lull between 10:00 church and a course I planned to take at church this afternoon, my husband and I walked all three dogs off-leash (shh! Illegal ...) at a county park about fifteen minutes away from home. Our older dog is quite at home in the wild (so to speak!), and sort of went her own way. The puppies, who are littermates nearly a year old, mostly hung together, though whenever I lagged behind they would circle around, one at a time, to make sure I was still there. At one point, though, they took off running, and all sorts of things went through our minds: motorbikes, larger, vicious dogs, whatever. But I raised my voice and called, and they came right back, hearing my voice.

Later, during the course, the Rector explained that you can herd cows, but sheep have to be led, and they are typically led by a familiar voice, which they recognize and follow. The sheep have a relationship with the shepherd, whom they trust. This, despite my 53 years of being an Episcopalian, was a revelation to this suburban girl. The metaphor of Jesus as shepherd now makes perfect sense.

I guess this proves that you are never too old to learn, especially where the Gospel is concerned. And that I should be listening harder for the Shepherd's voice.


Gabrielle said...

Yes, and relationship is key here, isn't it. We know His voice, and He knows every one of us in His flock. The shepherd/sheep imagery in the Bible has been an ongoing source of meditation for me.

Anonymous said...

I learned something I never knew today at the noon Eucharist. In the 1st century, the sheep would be led into a stone walled pen at night. The only opening was a two foot wide gap in the wall - which is gated by the body of the shepherd.

Wow. Never knew that. Not only does the shepherd lead the sheep, but he puts his actual physical body between them and wolves, lions, etc.

-the always learning something seminarian

Michael Astley said...

Hmmm. I grew up in St Kitts and part of my extended family with whom I lived for a couple of years reared sheep. Perhaps they were of a particularly unruly variety (the sheep, not my family, although...) but they never seemed to respond to anybody's voice. Oh well.

I have a vision of British and American sheep being more orderly. :-)

Mata H said...

more sheep trivia:

"They rod and thy staff they comfort me.."

The rod is an imposing bludgeon used to beat off wolves. The staff is a crooked stick, as in the paintings we see -- but its use is interesting -- it is used when a sheep has gotten stuck somewhere and needs pulling out. The curved part goes up under their front legs so they can be hauled out, pulled up, gotten out of danger or bracken or sure makes the Psalm come alive.