“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”Psalms 23:6 ESV
A few years back I gave up my occupation of Shepherdess. The decision was fairly easy as the loss of the little ones due to my lack of peripherial vision made me so sad. Finding their little collapsed bodies days or weeks after the lambing season irritated me. I could no longer have pride in my care of their needs. I had to say goodbye to my herd. Through those years I fell in love with the 23rd Psalm, written by a shepherd about our Shepherd.
My role as spiritual shepherdess in my family has always been just under the radar. Following in my mother’s footprints, I have purchased journals devotionals and led prayer vigil’s and other moments of spiritual significance for our family.
The backdrop of the Hebrew shepherd colors every aspect of the beloved Psalm. Each verse has deep meaning and has led me to a spiritual exercise that I love sharing. While reading through the whole passage I like to find a verse on which my soul meditates. This is the one that usually hurts or heels or speaks or screams to my spirit: this is how I feel right now! Once upon a time my soul felt like it was in the restoration process. Verse three says “he restores my soul.” If you’ve ever been around a restoration project you know that it’s very messy. To restore something to its original purpose or use means sometimes there’s a lot of demolition or destruction before returning to beauty. Restoration is messy.
“…goodness and mercy shall follow…” This verse has new meaning for me lately as I use the pile of sheep compost for the soil base in our new greenhouse. It’s age has left it free of smell and disgust. It has been nearly 6 years since the twelve years in the making pile was used.
What follows animals is not often thought of as goodness or mercy. The fresh scent is not very pleasant. Perhaps what follows Waldo’s business doings is a better visual. When he gets done with his deposit, my husband says, Waldo does the Toyota Leap. He has so lightened up that the weight set aside allows him to spring up like a helium balloon let loose. It’s rather hilarious to watch him “lighten up and live!” -new meaning to the familiar comedian Ken Davis phrase.
How is an animal trail goodness and mercy you might ask? I certainly don’t want my cats and dogs doing their business in my flowerbeds! A return to the days of shepherding might help bring meaning to this verse. The trail of sheep goodness was considered fertilizer and gave the ground nutrients for greener grass. That goodness and mercy followed into the next season of green pastures. The soil that is being used for the greenhouse is rich in nutrients and plant food.
“…shall follow me…”
These days I am living out this verse in many ways. Behind me are the days of shepherding sheep. In the past are the evenings of church activities and children’s lessons. Long gone are the homeschooling years. What follows me these days is often a look of surprise as I neglect an outstretched hand during greeting.(Sorry, I just didn’t see it.) Behind me at church, on days when I play piano, is a whole congregation of people whom only a third of them I might actually see. Most enjoyable left overs of sheep shearing is the wool that I get to play with. Dyeing the wool, carding, and spinning it has become a fun hobby for me.
These days as we repurpose Gavin’s old work jeans into a denim quilt, I am thinking of aroma therapy in a totally different way. For starters, the smell of machine shop lingers in the denim even after many washings. At one point during our work we enjoyed a lotion moment. The blackberry and chocolate aroma blesses me as I stitch across the pieces that we touched. Ahh sweet goodness. . Hopefully I can finish the quilt so Lennea can use it for a very long time.