SHEPHERD OR BUTCHER

A pastor was taking pilgrims on a tour of the Holy Land. He had just read them the parable of the good shepherd and was explaining to them that, as they continued their tour, they would see shepherds on the hillsides just as in Jesus’ day. He wanted to impress the group, so he told them what every good pastor tells his people about shepherds.

He described how, in the Holy Land, shepherds always lead their sheep, always walking in front to face dangers, always protecting the sheep by going ahead of them. He barely got the last word out when, sure enough, they rounded a corner and saw a man and his sheep on the hillside.

There was only one problem: the man wasn’t leading the sheep as the good pastor had said. No, he was behind the sheep and seemed to be chasing them, throwing stones at them, and whacking them with a stick.

The pastor turned red. Flabbergasted, he ran over to the fence and said, “I always thought shepherds in this region led their sheep — out in front. And I told my people that a good shepherd never chases his sheep.” The man replied, “That’s absolutely true… you’re absolutely right … but I’m not the shepherd, I’m the butcher!”

Source | Based on Lynn Anderson,
They Smell Like Sheep: Spiritual Leadership for the 21st Century
(Howard Books, 2002) pages 29-30

CONSIDER THIS

On some levels we are all leaders in life. Some lead with a title and many lead without a title. Whatever the case may be, ask: when it comes to leadership, what is my basic attitude? Is it that of the shepherd who leads lovingly or that of the butcher who chases, drives and forces?

Is my leadership such that it leads to violence, “butchering” potential and possibility along the way, or is it of the non-violent type, always seeking the good of the other, encouraging and affirming?

LISTENING TO BOTH SIDES

The disciple asked the master: “What should a decent and respectful human being do to understand the real-world situation? What makes a human being out-of-touch with reality?”

After a few moments of quiet stillness the master answered: “Always listen wholeheartedly to both sides and you will be enlightened; listen to only one side and you will be left in the dark.”

Source | Unknown.
This rendition is as adapted and retold by Philip Chircop sj.

CONSIDER THIS

I am told that the Chinese symbol for “listening” is made of two main characters, one depicting the ears and the other depicting the heart. To really listen one must not only use both ears but also the heart!  To really listen one be fully present, wholeheartedly, offering undivided attention to the other.

What do you hear when you listen to the one you love or to the one you consider to be your enemy? Are you engaged in active listening?

WHAT HAPPENED ON EASTER?

“Can anyone tell me what happened on Easter?” the pastor in an affluent inner city parish asked. There was total and utter silence.

The pastor, persisting, asked again politely, “Now I know that someone here knows what happened on Easter a long, long time ago.” Again, total silence.

Finally, visibly frustrated, the pastor asked more forcefully, “Will somebody, anybody,  please tell me what happened on Easter Sunday!”

Finally, little Freddie (never at a loss for words) tentatively raised his hand and said, “They killed Jesus!”

“That’s right,” said the pastor, “And then what?”

“They put him in the ground!” (Freddie spoke with more confidence).

“Right! Right! Very good!” the proud pastor affirmed, “and then what?”

“And he was there for three days!” continued Freddie, now fully trusting his voice.

“And then what?” the pastor continued.

“And on Easter morning, Jesus comes out of the ground!” continued Freddie, now fully confident he had it all right.

“Wonderful! Amazing! Perfect!” the pastor joyfully agreed.

And then Freddie continued, ”And if Jesus sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of bad weather, six more weeks of winter!”

Source | As heard and remembered
during a recent conference I happened to be part of.

CONSIDER THIS

A lot of people are like little Freddie –  they know bits and pieces about the Easter story, but the details are not all that clear. In the midst of easter bunnies and colourfully painted eggs, it’s easy to forget the real meaning of greatest festival of faith: Easter!

Today, and in the coming days, consider this: what is Easter for you” What does it mean? And what difference does it make in your life?

GIVING YOUR LIFE

Itzhak Perlman is one of the finest violinists alive today. Several years ago, Perlman agreed to attend a charity reception after one of his concerts in Vienna. Tickets for the champagne reception were sold for the equivalent of five hundred American dollars per guest.

At the reception, while the guests mingled, Itzhak Perlman stood in a roped-off area flanked by security guards. One by one the guests were led into the roped-off area and introduced to Perl-man. As one man entered the roped-off area, he stretched out his hand, shook hands with the violinist, and said, “Mr. Perlman, you were phenomenal tonight. Absolutely amazing.” Perlman smiled and thanked the man graciously for the compliment. The man continued, “All my life I have had a great love of the violin, and I have heard every great living violinist, but I have never heard any-one play the violin as brilliantly as you did tonight.” Perlman smiled again but said nothing, and the man continued, “You know, Mr. Perlman, I would give my whole life to be able to play the violin like you did tonight.”

Perlman smiled once more and said, “I have.”

Source | Matthew Kelly,
The Rhythms of Life (Touchstone; Reprint edition, 2005)
pages 40-41

CONSIDER THIS

That is the difference. While some of us are sitting around letting the sand in the hourglass of life empty, thinking, I would give my whole life to be able to do that, or, I hope that happens to me one day, people like Itzhak Perlman are getting the job done. They are giving their whole lives to the magnificent and meaningful pursuit of their deepest dream, giving flesh to their deepest desire.

ATTITUDES TOWARD THE LIGHT

The Simon Community run night-shelters for down-and-outs. Each night volunteers bring soup and sandwiches to those who, for one reason or another, do not want to come to the shelters. They go looking for them in derelict buildings and such places. The most important aid they take with them is a torch, because often there is no light where the down-and-outs live. Most of the down-and-outs receive the volunteers as friends. But some refuse to have anything to do with them. The volunteers can tell at once which group they are dealing with by their reaction to the light.

Some welcome the light. Others fear it. You could say that the light judges them, in the sense that it shows up the darkness in their lives – the darkness of alcoholism, misery, hopelessness, crime. But it doesn’t come to judge them. It comes as a friend, to brighten up their lives, to comfort them.

Source | Flor McCarthy, New Sunday and Holyday Liturgies
(Dominican Publications; Revised edition, 2011)

CONSIDER THIS

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” | Martin Luther King Jr

  • What is your response to the light?
  • What is it that is revealed when light is shone on you?

LET PEDESTRIANS DEFINE THE WALKWAYS

A new green college campus was built, but one thing was still debated:

Where in the grass should we put the paved walkways?

Some felt the walkways should be around the edges, to leave the center green and untouched.

Some felt the walkways should cut diagonal, connecting all buildings to all buildings.

One professor had the winning idea: Don’t make any walkways this year. At the end of the year, look at where the grass is worn away, showing us where the students are walking. Then just pave those paths.

Source | Derek Sivers

CONSIDER THIS

Resist the urge to figure everything out in advance. The beginning of everything  is laced with a beautiful kind of ignorance. When people expect you to make decisions in advance, get in the habit of saying, “I don’t know yet”.

THE ONE THING MISSING

An aspiring artist sculpted a beautiful angel and wanted the master artist, Michelangelo, to inspect it and offer his opinion. So Michelangelo was called in. The master artist carefully looked at the sculpture from every imaginable angle.

Finally, he said, “Well, it lacks only one thing.” Then he turned around and walked out.

The puzzled would-be artist didn’t understand, and he certainly didn’t know what it lacked. Too embarrassed to go and ask Michelangelo himself, he sent a friend to Michelangelo’s studio to try and find out what his statue lacked.

The great artist replied, “It lacks only life.”

Source | Unknown. This is the version as remembered, heard during a seminar.

CONSIDER THIS

Do you feel like a sculpture without breath? Is it possible that many so-called believers (myself included when ungrounded)  are sculptures without life, works of art without a soul?  Many people have all kinds of things and the latest gadgets, but lack life.

  • We may have a car or a motorbike or both, but do we have direction for living?
  • We may dwell in a nice, big home, but do we have enduring inner peace and contentment?
  • We may have money, lots of it, but do we have a real sense of security?
  • We may have clothes filling our closets to overflowing, but do we have an authentic self-worth to coat our spirit and soul?
  • We may have many friends, but are we really connected? Or are we suffering from an unbearable hollow sense of loneliness?
  • We may be meeting all of our goals, amassing accomplishments along the way, but are we calm and serene? Or is anxiety leaving us feeling undone?

Spend some time with these questions and then consider a final one:

  • Is there something still missing? Are we lacking the one thing necessary: Life?