Sunday, May 15, 2011

Psalm 23 Green Pastures

Psalm 23 is often referred to as the Shepherd'...Image via Wikipedia Green is term we use to describe those who are inexperienced and childlike in understanding. But “green-ness” is critical to a fresh perspective and new understanding. Although many of us desperately cling to the “same-ness” and stability in our lives, living is about change and transformation.

If we fight to stay the same, we find everything continues changing around us. It is in the new that we are best able to embody those childlike qualities, we desire. When we can drop the facade of expertise and knowledge, we allow ourselves to just experience what is. The excitement and anticipation in facing the unknown is palpable.

When my anxiety is high or my morale is low, these familiar verses from Psalm 23 calm my soul. The shepherd and sheep analogy offers insight into the importance of us retaining childlike qualities in order to participate in the Commonwealth of Heaven. Sheep are unique animals in that adults of the species have evolved retaining the characteristics of juveniles. Typically, the young of a species have limited defenses and a need for protection and care. Sheep also must move regularly to new pastures in order to feed. Because of these needs sheep are dependent on the constant attention of a shepherd.

Although we like to think that we are in control of our lives, in truth, we do not even have control of our breathing—it is controlled by our autonomic nervous system, which keeps us alive on the most basic level. Spirit gives us life and vital energy (green pastures, still waters). There is a Divine provision for every challenge in our lives. But we also have the God given gift to choose whether or not we accept what is provided. It is about living with the faith and trust of a child who knows that all cares and concerns will be handled by a loving parent.

What we think we know is at best limited and we must be open to new ways of understanding ourselves and our world. The spiritual journey is a process of death and rebirth. Rebirth is a "green" experience. When we die to the old, it can feel as though we have been left with no foundation. Our entire world, as we know it, is shattered. Although these deaths are arduous, they are not permanent; they are a shadow of death. For it is through this darkness that we are born again into new understanding. In order to walk the spiritual path, we must be willing everyday to give up our old life for a new pasture.

God waits patiently for us to choose God as the center of our lives (surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life), so that we can receive our spiritual inheritance (dwell in the house of the Lord). The question is can we embrace that childlike frame of mind?

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. (Matt 18:3-5)