Sunday, September 18, 2005

Like a Shepherd

Driving with Crash Kid to church tonight to cantor, I told him I thought I would have trouble singing the communion hymn with a straight face. "What is it?" I broke into song:

Like a shepherd he feeds his flock,
and gathers the lambs in his arms.
Holding them carefully close to his heart,
leading them home.

Crash is giggling by the first line and guffawing by the end. "They're pretty messy to hold, Mom!" "Yep, all I can think about is my white shirt at the end of the day."

Holy cards of the Good Shepherd favor white robes, fluffy lambs and bucolic scenery. After my sojourn as a shepherdess this summer, I realize we've been sold the sanitized version. Newborn lambs are not fluffy and white, the ewes do not always trot sweetly along at your side and those white robes will never be the same after a day in the pasture! Our urbanized culture pulls a misty nostalgic curtain over Isaiah's point.

God cannot be the God of the holy cards. It would be as if I were only my kids' mother at the end of the day when they are scrubbed, sleepy and tucked into their clean white sheets. Instead I'm their mother when they are sticky, tearful, bloody and worse.

I told Crash my experience as a shepherd reminded me that God was willing to pick us up even when we were at our messiest. Crash? He said, "I think God is most willing to pick you up when you're messy." His theology isn't bad!