The Inner Shepherd
In this reflection we will explore the parable of the good shepherd, looking at this from an inner contemplative perspective.
Listen to the following piece of music as an opening prayer.
Dona nobis pacem
Grant us peace
Talk length: 13 minutes
I invite you to read the following readings slowly and prayerfully, and spend some time in quiet reflection:
Reading 1: Psalm 23
O my Beloved, You are my shepherd,
I shall not want;
You bring me to green pastures for rest
and lead me beside still waters
renewing my spirit; You restore my soul.
You lead me in the path of goodness
to follow Love’s way.
Even though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death, I am not afraid;
For You are ever with me;
your rod and your staff they guide me,
they give me strength and comfort.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of all my fears; you bless me
with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the
heart of the Beloved forever.
You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.
Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.
~ JOHN O'DONOHUE
(Excerpt from the blessing, 'For One Who is Exhausted')
I invite you into a time of quiet prayer, using the ten minute timer below which begins and ends with the sound of a gong. Open yourself in surrender to the presence and action of God within.
End the time of quiet prayer by listening to the following song:
The Lord is my Shepherd, you lead me on
Beside the still waters You restore my soul
Though I walk through the valleys
I will not fear
I know You are with me
I feel You here
I am safe in Your arms
In Your arms
The Lord is my shepherd
Through darkest night
Though evil surrounds me
You defend my life
Goodness and mercy for all my days
In the house of my God my heart will stay
I am safe in Your arms
In Your arms
For further reflection:
Below are the readings from the talk and some additional readings for further reflection on this theme.
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Don’t you leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until you find it? And when you find it, you joyfully put it on your shoulders and go home. Then you call your friends and neighbors together and say, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ "
Julian of Norwich:
"There is the fall, and there is the recovery from the fall, and both are the mercy of God."
“One wondering thought pollutes the day.”
"Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world."
“Your true identity is as a child of God. This is the identity you have to accept. Once you have claimed it and settled in it, you can live in a world that gives you much joy as well as pain. You can receive the praise as well as the blame that comes to you as an opportunity for strengthening your basic identity, because the identity that makes you free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame. You belong to God, and it is as a child of God that you are sent into the world.”
That truth has been inscribed into my heart
And into the heart of every human being,
There to be read and reverenced,
Thanks be to you, O God.
That there are ways of seeing and sensitivities of knowing
Hidden deep in the palace of the soul,
Waiting to be discovered, ready to be set free,
Thanks be to you.
Open my senses to Wisdom’s inner promptings,
That I may give voice to what I hear in my soul
And be changed for the healing of the world.
(John Philip Newell)
The Lord is my Shepherd
And so I lack nothing
In meadows of green grass
You let me lie down
Beside the still waters
You patiently lead me
Restoring my soul
Restoring my soul
For Your holy namesake
You guides me by right paths
Though I may stray to
The vale of deep darkness
I fear no evil
For You are there with me
Beside me Your rod and staff
They comfort me
You prepare a table
Before my enemies
My head You've anointed
My cup's overflowing
Your goodness and mercy
Will follow me all the days of my life
And I'll make my home place
In the house of the Lord
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Sharon's book that was previously called "Contemplative Living" has been republished by AnamChara Books under the title "Deeper: Finding the Depth Dimension Beneath the Surface of Life". The Kindle version is available from Amazon, and the hard copy version can be ordered from loot.co.za or Takealot, or from your local bookshop through Ingram Distribution.