When the shepherd has brought out all their own,
           they go ahead of them, and the sheep follow
           because they know the shepherd’s voice.

                        —John 10.4

In the west our shepherds herd sheep from behind,
dogs nipping at their heels.
But in the Middle East the shepherds go in front,
and the sheep follow.

The best place isn’t the pen but the pasture,
not enfolded but led out.
The place closest to the Beloved’s sheltering arms
is on the way.

The psalm reminds us the paths of righteousness
lead us straight from the green pastures
to the valley of death.
But even entering the shadowed places
we know the good shepherd goes before,
and has already set the table.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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