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Caring for others brings out elements of goodness in all of us.
Upon becoming first-time parents, many people discover a maturity and strength that they never knew they had within them, as they find themselves responsible for a precious, vulnerable life. So also do adults who become caretakers for loved ones change and deepen in their being.
The artwork, The Good Shepherd, explores these qualities of protectiveness, compassion, caring, alertness, and giving. Standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, a shepherd stands guard over a herd of sheep – a truly vulnerable group of beings if there ever were one.
It is the shepherd’s job to look out for everything – to keep an eye out for predators, to lead the sheep to good pasture, to be aware of the elements and take the sheep to a safe place should the weather turn inclement. The shepherd’s first and foremost concern is not the shepherd, but the sheep.
And this is what makes a good shepherd – one who guards the sheep.
Many people are familiar with the term, good shepherd, in accordance with the words of Jesus, who ascribed the words to himself. By saying this, he described his position in relationship to us, the sheep: it is his job to watch over us, to protect us, to be patient and kind and compassionate, to lead and teach gently and wisely, to be one in whom we can implicitly trust because we belong to him.
Quite unfortunately, many people do not see Christ this way, because they have been taught to cower before an overseer, a hired hand, an authoritarian figure who demands blind obedience and is constantly displeased with who we are and what we have to give. This type of Christ is a military general, not a shepherd; arrogant, not humble.
Such a person would not last long as a shepherd, because the sheep would be (rightfully) afraid of him.
But The Good Shepherd, the truly good shepherd, cares for his sheep. His sheep know his voice, and they are safe under his eye.
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(The good shepherd in this artwork is standing at the edge of a ravine at the Little Colorado Canyon in Arizona.)
March 21st, 2019
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