I’m walking the half mile in the dark. It’s 3 a.m., cold and still. Knowing the way, I walk, looking up at the constellations, Red Venus, and my favorite, Cassiopeia. The little lights to guide us by night, and the moon. By the time I reach the chapel, it doesn’t seem dark anymore, but within, darkness engulfs me again.
Familiar darkness and a welcome warmth. One light emerges, the perpetual candle. As my aging eyes adjust to the interior space, the great Shepherd’s staff appears. It is on the right in the chapel, affixed to the first stall, where the monks pray. Wooden, smoothly carved, tall, with a graceful crook.
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Slowy, noiselessly, the monks file in for the night office, these men who live by the longest continuous form of the government the world has ever known, the Rule of St Benedict. Lord, Open Thou My Lips, and My Mouth . . . baaaa!
The lost sheep, the Shepherd, seeking always to gather, to rescue. . . . The Shepherd lies at the mouth of the sheepfold at night, his staff and rod in his hand to ward off the marauder. The fold often made of rocks, just to keep them all together. The lost sheep by day, found bleating piteously somewhere, and tired, draped around the shoulders of the Good Shepherd.
My favorite image of my Lord Christ. Not the one that comes into view now, the one we Protestants may recoil from, the crucifix. Our dying human Lord hanging piteously upon the Cross. Drop, drop slow tears for the reality of all that is sordid and hideous in our helpless condition prior to your searching and finding us. Who is the lost sheep you know?
The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want. I pray for the world, this day before the rest of the world is even aware that Christ is praying with us. The Good Shepherd lays down his Life for the sheep.
I walk back, out into the dark night to wander the half mile lost in the grandeur of humility, becoming the stars.