The readings today were read in some tension and fatigue around here, so going back there the first line from the first reading in Micah grabbed my attention. How often do I consider the often mentioned "staff of the shepherd? I am sure it was not a comfortable thing for the sheep to be grabbed around the neck and pulled out of thistle patches or from where they have fallen or gotten stuck. There is a crook at the top to grab them around the neck and pull them. Working with cattle I know that the staff or rod is used to swat them on the noses to turn them or on the butt to get them to go ahead where you want them. I have heard that sheep are not very intelligent, so I am sure that the staff is used to direct them, protect them, motivate them, save them from tight spots and disasters, and separate them from their lambs when they are weaned, a lot of unpleasant things for their own good and safety.
Yes, the picture of the Good Shepherd in the pasture with his staff herding and tending to his sheep is not quite the one we love to read about in the 23rd Psalm! There are a lot of painful and miserable things we need to go through in our journey as the sheep! The staff is used to keep us on the path and away from the prowling wolf, who is always wanting to steal us away from what is good and right!
Working with my husband on our gardens from sunrise this morning... I have experienced the staff in the verbal reprimands for my poor gardening. This happens every year and I don't change or improve. Ruth and I have started to use tarps to keep the weeds down between the rows, but I still am very poor at keeping them out of the plants until I am reprimanded. I guess I am a dumb sheep, when it comes to keeping a clean garden, that needs that staff to get me moving in the right direction.
Why is it that year after year I don't get better? I am weak and sinful and now I am struggling with a sore knee after the two weeks with the girls and their kids and then Ruth and I in Michigan. Year after year I think I will keep ahead of the weeds - "if you just work 15 minutes a day pulling weeds you would keep ahead of it." I do pull some every day, but probably more like 2-5 minutes and then I start picking the vegetables that are ready to eat, and the weeding takes a far second place. I am not in love with gardening - I love to share my Faith here on this blog each day, and my pictures. It goes much deeper than a person thinks. Even the "staff" year after year of firmly reminding me that I have a dirty garden and what have I been doing with all my time... I don't change!