Don’t just tell me you love me,
Visit when I’m sick
sick of life
sick of hardship
sick of loneliness
Nourish when I’m empty
pangs of hunger
out of options
Supply when I’m thirsty
offer a sip
of what you’re drinking
melted chips of ice
When I’m unprotected
victim of the hurtful
vulnerable to the willful
Don’t just tell me that you love me,
If I’m opposed, understanding
If I’m young, humor
If I’m old, honor
If I’m angry, calm
If I’m confused, clarity
If I’m distraught, empathy
If I’m falling, lift
If I’m hurt, help
Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.
But we really can’t expect the hired hands
who have charge of so many sheep
to pay special attention to OURs,
even if we offer to pay them a bit more.
Our sheep belong to us.
We are their shepherds.
Not hired, but chosen.
Our sheep are ours to teach about the flock,
about minding the hired hand,
about staying in the safety of the fold,
about eating only the grass from this pasture,
about waiting their turn for sheering even when they’re really hot and bothered.
We are the shepherds of our own sheep.
We would die for them, wouldn’t we?
Or would we fire the hired hand
hoping to find one who will keep a better watch,
use a louder voice,
and wield a firmer staff?
Only the shepherd of the sheep will lay down his life for his sheep.
When we do what absolutely kills us,
when we love them enough to let them go,
to wander, to be lost, to explore,
then, in the quiet, they may listen for the voice they have learned is love.
If they follow it they will find pasture
where they can frolic and play,
freely, powerfully, joyfully.
That will be home.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. ~ John 10: 11-15