is an awful long time
to serve one master
--so everyone says.
like a change of pace,
a change of scene,
a substantial increase
in bankable returns,
perhaps in clout,
but I get paid in sheep.
Sheep are such silly animals,
mutton-brained and woolly,
who don't know how to follow
even when instinct tells them
that they should.
That's where I come in.
I, the hireling,
coax and prod and shove
through the wide gate
and into the fold
where, safe and free at last,
they are sure of finding pasture.
I, the hireling,
help the lambs recognize
the Shepherd's voice
I, the hireling,
teach them the melody
of their own names
as one by one
He calls His own.
And when thieves and brigands come,
bravely, I drive them away.
For though I am a hired man,
I am a sheep, too.
I cannot flee my kind
at the first appearance
of the wolf
because I know
--and I speak as one
in the business--
that there is more to sheep
Frost and Fire
Stewart, Elizabeth-Anne. C.1985
Coaching through Story
Team-taught virtual course, ILCT. Take one class or all four! Join from anywhere, via Zoom! Wednesdays, 4:00-6:00 p.m. ET
May 27th-June 17th, 2020
The Well Spirituality Center
, LaGrange Park, IL
June 26-27, 2020
Out of Your Comfort Zone
Highland Park, IL
Sunday, August 2nd,
Decoding the Archetypes that Drive Us
Thursday, Sept. 24th, 2020
Saturday, Sept. 26th, 2020
ICF (International Coaching Federation) Midwest Regional Conference,
October 1-3, 2020
- Why is Psalm 23 the most popular of psalms?
- To what extent does the image of the Good Shepherd speak to you?
- Who are the "thieves and robbers" that you believe Jesus would denounce in our contemporary world?
- When you hear Jesus call you by name, how do you respond?
With a death count of 60,000 in the U.S. alone and a federal government order in place for 100,000 more body bags,
any suggestion that life should return to "normal" any time soon is nothing short of madness. Moreover, dire predictions of another "wave" of COVID-19 in the fall, possibly to be followed by a third wave next year mean that "normal" isn't going to happen tomorrow. The "
" may, in fact, be something we have to live with for at least another year. That being the case, how do we find meaning and purpose in this "COVID-19 Interruption," and how do we transcend fear, loss and hopelessness?
I am going to offer a few suggestions of my own, but would welcome your responses as well; please send me an email at
if you would like to share your thoughts. Meanwhile, here are my musings:
- We need to come together on both a national and global level. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, warns that the virus will "exploit the cracks between us" if we lack national unity and global solidarity. The way to save lives is to stand together, work together and pray together as ONE WORLD.
- As individuals, we need to take responsibility for our own physical, spiritual and emotional health, This means seeking out the resources that will keep us "on track," coming up with a plan of action that will provide us with structure, self-discipline and relaxation. If days merge into one another becoming a blur of sitcoms or COVID-19 briefings, we will not only gain weight but also develop "brain fog" and depression.
- As people of faith, we need to stay connected to our faith communities, keep up our spiritual practices, and pray for an end to this global catastrophe. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Pope Francis has called the human family to come together in prayer; most recently, he asked Catholics to add two prayers to the end of the Rosary asking for Mary's intervention. cf. Rosary
- As social beings, we need to stay connected to our social circles, even while we practice social distancing. Whether we are busier than ever because of working at home on Zoom or whether we have extra free time, we can reach out to others, especially to those who are sick, grieving or alone. Technology makes this easy!
- As evolving beings, we need to develop attitudes and habits which advance the consciousness of the human race. This time of slowing down offers us the opportunity to become more patient, more understanding, more empathic, more grateful (especially to those on the front lines), more generous and definitely more humble!
- As creative beings, we need to develop resiliency. Many of us have lost income and employment and are now facing months of uncertainty; daunting as this situation is, however, now is the perfect time to redesign our lives and explore skills and gifts that can help us parachute into the future! Rather than mourning what no longer is, we need to imagine what might be!
I'm sure I'm missing a few pointers but it is almost 4:00 a.m. CT and if I continue with my musings, I will fall asleep at my computer. Fortunately, I don't have to "Zoom teach" tomorrow as my 90 online students are preparing for finals!
Be well/ Stay well!
PS Try my spiritual self-assessment tool!
After you take the Quiz, you will automatically receive a computer-generated diagram and explanatory comments regarding your strengths and "growing edges."
I hope you find the Quiz useful!
So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the sheep gate. All who came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved; they will come in and go out, finding pasture. A thief comes only to steal, slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Who were the "thieves and robbers" to whom Jesus was referring? Did he have specific individuals in mind or was he referring generically to leaders who had betrayed both God and the people they served for their own ends? Was he thinking of kings like Ahab (935-852 BCE), seventh king of Judah, husband of Jezebel, worshiper of Baal, who "did more to anger God than any of the kings of Israel who preceded him ( 1 Kgs 16:33)? Or Manasseh (698-642 BCE), son of Hezekiah, who sacrificed his own son to "the whole host of heaven," building altars for Baal and erecting sacred poles for the Canaanite goddess, Asherah (2 Kgs 21)? Or perhaps, closer to his own time, the Tetrarch Herod Antipas (c.20 BCE-39 CE), the Roman "client" who executed John the Baptist and who would later turn Jesus over to Pilate? Or was he referring to those Pharisees who, having interrogated the man born blind, cast him out because they couldn't accept his testimony (Jn 9)?
Personally, I am inclined to go with the last possibility simply because the story of
The Man Born Blind
immediately precedes the
Good Shepherd Discourse.
In this miracle narrative, blindness refers not only to the beggar's lack of physical sight but also to the Pharisees' lack of spiritual seeing: the cured blind man comes to faith while the religious leaders persist in rejecting his version of events even though they can plainly see that he has been healed. The man who was born blind, like the sheep in the
Good Shepherd Discourse,
refuses to listen to the "thieves and robbers" but prefers to trust his own experience of God's mercy and compassion. This means he is ready to listen to Jesus' teachings and to enter "the fold" through him.
If Jesus were to denounce the "thieves and robbers" of our own time, who would they be? Would he cry out against political leaders who, acting as demigods, demand total allegiance from their followers, dispensing favors to sycophants while punishing those who expose their clay feet? Would he call out the CEO's of billion dollar industries that place the dollar before human life and before the well-being of our planet -- pharmaceutical companies that knowingly push pills with lethal side-effects; fossil fuel companies that violate minimum standards for air and water safety; food giants that deliberately add salt, sugar and fat to their products to make them as addictive as cocaine; agricultural conglomerates that use and abuse seasonal workers, exposing them to harmful pesticides and unsafe factory conditions? And what would he say to our religious leaders-- to those princes of the church who have sided with earthly powers rather than with the poor and oppressed?; to those who have used the church as a career path instead of as a wholehearted response to God's call?; to those who, in the name of God, have destroyed the lives of those entrusted to their care?
"Thieves and robbers" take what does not belong to them. They steal, often through violent means, impoverishing those they have deprived of wealth, health and happiness; worse still, they lead their victims into despair, loss of faith, hopelessness and even suicide.
"Do not listen to them," says Jesus; "instead, listen to my voice as I call your name."
IF YOU CAN'T FLY, TRY A ZOOM RETREAT INSTEAD!
If you have canceled your retreat because of COVID-19, you may want to think about a virtual alternative. I will be available for customized group or individual "virtual retreats" (by phone or Zoom) from May 15-August 15. Please contact me by email for more information.
SPIRITUAL DIRECTION AND LIFE COACHING BY PHONE OR ZOOM
This video explains my approach to this ministry, while my website provides further details as well. I work "in person" as well as remotely by phone, Zoom or Skype; I am also available to facilitate retreats for groups and individuals.