Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My script of joy, immortal diet,
y bottle of salvation.
My gown of glory, hopes true gauge,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

~Sir Walter Raleigh

A hiker, walking for pleasure, likes to choose between several alluring trails.
The pilgrim desires only the road that leads home.

~Frank W. Boreham

Friday, January 3, 2014

A New Year, An Old Comfort

At the beginning of a new year the mind goes off looking for some absolute, some word to claim for the journey ahead.

This is just what we do.  We review the year just past, in spite of or because we desire to carry on, to go forward, to claim new territory in a spiritual sense.  We know we need provisions as for any trip.  Many ideas come and just as many are discarded. Then comes a surprise, from the least expected source taking us back to the True Source while directing us to our goal.

This year its about sheep and shepherds.  We love sheep.  We have raised sheep. We have cared for them in their foolish choices, illnesses and foot rot.  We have even delivered their lambs at times.  Following our farm years, we were under-shepherds for the Good Shepherd's flock.  Here again, we cared for His sheep in their foolish choices, their illnesses and foot rot.  We loved tended their lambs.

Then too, I have been so often brought to the startling awareness of my own sheep-hood.  Time and again I have been made to acknowledge that as a sheep I'm one of the dumbest in the flock, one of the silliest who makes repeated foolish choices.  Yes, there have even been times of foot rot from getting out of the proper pasture and spending too much time loitering in boggy areas and just not paying attention to the Shepherd  and taking care.

Yesterday I discovered a new periodical, a magazine, beautifully British that claims "Life at natures pace".  How can one go wrong with such as that?

This lovely magazine contained an article (yes, I am getting to my point!) about a young woman, a shepherdess in the Lake District of England.  She was relating her life with her sheep, yet the spiritual truths known my life long lept from the page. The very best was concerning "hefting".

"Hefting is the ancient practice in moorland shepherding and eliminates the need for fences or enclosures, helping the shepherd keep the flock close.  To heft the flock can take years; the shepherd must be with the sheep every day, guiding and herding them to graze only within their boundaries...Once a sheep has established its territory it will graze there for life, passing on the knowledge to its lambs, who will do the same through subsequent generations."

Is this not a beautiful picture of the loving intent of the Shepherd of our souls? Knowing the Shepherd, being with Him every day keeps me in the proper pasture and within the boundaries that are safe.  And finally, as I/the sheep learn this, it is only natural that the knowledge is passed on to 'the lambs' and they then, in turn, to their own lambs.  " the thousandth generations"  of those that follow, keeping close to the Shepherd.

Herein is the reminding of the old comforts, the truths known.  

In green pastures by cool waters, guided and protected by His rod and staff, where I know of a certainly from life long experience that His goodness and mercy are part of His following love for all of my days,  this is where I desire to be found.  

It comes to mind that the familiar King James word for hefting might be 'abide'.  

Whether hefted or abiding, that is the thought for the year ahead ~ staying put in good pasture close to the Shepherd ~ taking care so that the generations to come will also find the pasture good and remain in it.

Blessings on your own journey ahead, Dear Reader.
May all your pastures be green, your streams abundant.

Landscape, Issue 12, Christmas 2013;  
Sheep on the Fells, Helen McLaughlin

Alison O'Neill,


  1. Loved this. Thank you for such a great perspective. :)

  2. "In God's green pasture feeding, by His cool waters lie. Soft in the evening walked my Lord and I. In God’s green pastures feeding by His cool waters lie;
    Soft in the evening walk my Lord and I,
    All the sheep of His pasture Fare so wondrously fine; His sheep am I." This kept going through my head after I read this. :)