The Good Shepherd
Our daily reflection comes from the benefit of Ros Hughes’s re-reading of her journal from many years ago, which she shares below.
It was so lovely this morning having my little grandson back, playing in our garden, with an old favourite toy farm set that has been used by a few generations of the Hughes’ family. Listening to his chatter about the shepherd and sheep – ram, ewe and lambs, breeds of sheep, footrot and orf – I realised he had far more knowledge than I did about sheep and the work of the shepherd. After all, my son, his Dad, owns a flock of sheep and so my grandson has been brought up involved in life on the farm.
On the other hand, I had been brought up a city child. My knowledge of sheep as a child came from Bible stories. Pictures in the story books of the Good Shepherd and the parable of the lost sheep and even stained-glass window images in our Church led me to visualise in my mind’s eye – Jesus – the Good Shepherd as a tall, graceful, clean, young man, robed in white, leading obedient, docile, clean sheep, and carrying an adorable, white, woolly lamb. One of my favourite hymns I used to sing before bed as a child, was ‘Loving Shepherd of Thy sheep, Keep Thy lamb in safety keep.’
Moving to the North Wales mountains above Llanberis in my early 20s certainly widened my understanding, because our family became friendly with Dafydd, who was an elderly shepherd. He had worked in this difficult terrain for many years as a shepherd. He would be out in all weathers and all hours particularly late winter and early spring – his work was hard, dirty, and physically demanding – blood, sweat and muck on his weathered hands and clothes. Furthermore, sheep are certainly not obedient, and need a lot of care and attention.
All in all, being a good shepherd is hard work. Dafydd’s care for his sheep was his priority, and their needs came before his, and his hard lifestyle took its toll on his health – his sacrifice. Sometimes we can catch a glimpse of Jesus in the people around us in our daily lives.
Reflecting on this image of a shepherd, familiar to many of us here in the hills and mountains of North Wales, puts a vastly different perspective on Jesus saying ’I am the Good Shepherd’. It is also a challenging thought to consider that we ourselves are like sheep – hard work – disobedient, following the flock and running with the crowd in the wrong direction – needing constant attention, care, and guidance. So, let us come before the Good Shepherd with contrite hearts and thank Him for His constant loving care and patience – and ultimately His wonderful self-sacrifice.
Rhoddaist dy Fab Iesu Grist i fod yn Fugail Da,
Ac yn ei gariad tuag atom i roi ei einioes a chyfodi drachefn:
Cadw ni’n wastad dan ei adain,
A dyro i ni ras i ddilyn ei lwybr;
Trwy Iesu Grist ein Harglwydd. Amen
You gave your Son Jesus Christ to be the Good Shepherd,
And in his love for us to lay down his life and rise again:
Keep us always under his protection,
And give us grace to follow in his steps:
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.