Here's something that living in Crete gives you a lot to think about: sheep and shepherds.
I'm pretty familiar with sheep - probably more so than the average American. In Virginia my husband raised a flock of sheep (among other animals) on our hobby farm; at its largest the flock numbered 13. I got a front row seat on everything sheep-related from feeding, birthing, pasture rotation - even butchering and sampling. (The mutton sausage was the best.)
What I wasn't familiar with before we lived in Crete was shepherds. In my neighbourhood there are a few full-on, old-school shepherds - long robe (usually blue), a crook, the works. Occasionally when I'm running I'll see a shepherd walking the dirt lanes among the agricultural fields near our house. He'll be checking on a flock penned in behind a fence, or walking along a road with a motley flock packed in behind him.
These guys' job is to handle and manage the flocks. Full-time job; serious business. Leader and Guardian of All the Sheep.
It really makes all the biblical talk about sheep come to life.
Yesterday as I jogged, I happened upon a couple of ewes with their lambs in a dusty pasture. It got me thinking about how things work in sheep life. My reflections--
Lambs: they overtake the heart with their sweetness. But for all their adorableness, they're small and ignorant. They stick close to their mothers, rely on them for food and direction.
The mothers are the lambs' leaders (as mothers always are for their babies), and they're comparatively independent: they know the ropes of sheep life. Where to get the food, how to stick with the flock.
But the ewes aren't the final authority - not for their lambs, and not for themselves. They can't reliably find their own food or protect themselves from predators; these skills aren't found within the flock. No, they're reliant on the shepherd.
And there's only one shepherd.
Caring for the sheep is his full-time job; he's devoted to it. He has a plan - knows where he'll graze them first, then next. Knows how to handle food supply and manage tricky weather. Knows how to keep predators away and the flock together.
The ewes follow the shepherd... and they lead their young in following him too. They know he's their ticket - their access to all they need. They trust him unquestioningly.
It's not the sheep's job to project manage their own lives; even if they could do it, it'd be a dismal mess. They'd barely survive. Instead it's their job to stick to the heels of the one who cares for them. Success and joy for the sheep is to do this one job well.
"We are his people, the sheep of his pasture." His pasture - with this Shepherd.... Well. It's the only place to be.
A note for you: lately I've been posting short musings like this on my Facebook page. The setting seems more appropriate as they aren't robust pieces of prose but rather small truths, life glimpses, glory moments. In recent weeks I've written on the full-orbed soul experience of travel with kids, on seeing the holy in mundane moments, on language and the mind of God, on olives and waiting, among others. If you enjoy these, I'd love to have you follow my Facebook page and engage there.