“the priest farms the field of dreams. He divines that underground spring, the secret spark in every heart. He knows that behind the veneer of our external lives, the eternal is at work. Within us there is a secret immensity that we seldom ever glimpse. In its subtle wisdom, the eternal artist carefully designs a unique destiny for each person. “before I formed you in the womb, I knew you..” to be born is to be chosen. There is a task that can only be accomplished by each particular heart…& this task of grounding, focussing & nourishing the creative longing of the divine within everyone, is priestly work.”
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday; Day of Special Prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood & Religious Life.. ..we are uniquely blessed in this valley to have two thriving monastic communities, both within our Parish, with monks & nuns who, having heard the divine invitation to “come follow me”, took the courage & faith, the love & the risk, to do so..farming not just a field of dreams but a valley of dreams.. ..& last week, as if by coincidence at the end of the winter, Mr Mosey let loose a community of sheep & new lambs into the field in front of the monastery.. ..& now a constant drone of call & response as the mother ewe calls out to her young adventurous child to come home, across the field of dreams, to be fed protected loved & nurtured, until that moment in few week’s time when the lamb moves out & on..
..can we pause for a moment to pray for those abundant beloved spiritual lambs who belong here in our parish flock?..that when [not if] when the divine ewe, Christ, calls gently lovingly invitingly for their presence alongside him for a divine lifetime, they may, with a deep breath of intake of the Holy Spirit, hear themselves saying “speak Lord, your servant is listening..”
“..in each individual, a different aspect of God finds form..” ; Lord have mercy “..each of us is born out of a different place in the circle of God’s heart” ; Christ have mercy “..we are the expression of divine transfiguration..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..up in the Dales you find that good shepherd’s are good, like the first Good Shepherd, at multi-tasking..& a complimentary skill to shepherding sheep is to build walls to confine them in safe sheepfolds, & the shepherd builds dry stone walls..a craftsman/artist..lectio divina [spiritual reading] at its best to patiently watch him/her at work..to string out the line/direction of wall, to take delivery of a mountain of real random stones, each one a unique shape..& to begin work..to the eye of novice it looks chaotic as stones are chosen inspected handled weighed rubbed, & then placed skilfully lovingly, dovetailing to other stones already securely laid..gradually wall grows in height & length, stone by stone..a timeless work due to stonemason’s art of imagining, selecting, praying each stone into life..it looks chaotic; stones discarded each side of wall easily misread with a tidy mind like mine as tardiness..until you watch for some time..& when he gets stuck at particular point with seemingly no stone to hand to fit gap snugly, he looks back up line of wall & remembers..he walks back maybe 60yds crosses to other side of wall looks intently then spots the very stone he laid down 2wks ago, & which he needs here & now..& it fits like glove..a wall, & this parish, built crafted lovingly by our divine stone-mason Christ himself..every one of us known handled weighed loved felt & remembered until such time as our master craftsman finds a gap he needs to fill with a keystone..stone which will give wall/parish stability appearance attractiveness that will see it fulfil the divine expectation splendidly simply & majestically for years to come..& on this Good Shepherd Sunday, Our Lord looks proudly lovingly at each of our young stones, wherever they may be; here now or at university or working away, those who try to join us every Sunday, either because Mum & Dad say so, or because they want to come, or those who just come for Christmas Easter or on the weekend of Mums birthday..”this is the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone”..”& there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold & these too I have to lead as well” notice Jesus talks of two folds, one flock..swaledales & herdwicks..”they too will listen to my voice, & there will only be one flock”..”no one takes it from me; I lay it down [is he talking of his life? or you/me as a stone?] I lay it down of my own free will, & as it is in my power to lay it down, so it is in my power to pick it [ you/me ] up again.”.. Young 8yr old boy running down high street hears noises coming from a workshop..door ajar so he peeps inside..a wooden workbench on it large block of marble..sculptor has hammer & chisel & begins to chip away..boy watches loses interest runs off ..following week he goes down same street & remembers..peeps inside there on workbench sculptor just finishing off his work of art..boy fascinated..looks/drinks in moment..then goes up to sculptor pulls him on sleeve; looks up into eyes of sculptor & says “how did you know there was such a beautiful lion in that cold block of marble?” ..Our Lord imagines prays chips carefully caringly lovingly at you & me..realising that in us individually & collectively is the most beautiful human being with divine potential he could ever have dreamed of creating..”my dear people, we are already children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is that we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is.” ..each & every one of us here in this sheepfold has a vocation..a divine calling from our mother ewe, Christ himself, to become in his way & in his time, a keystone in this one extraordinary flock “I know my own, my own know me..”.. ..Trish, Andrew, Paul, Kirsten, Robert, Lucinda, David, Maureen, Gordon..Bede.. “speak Lord, your servant is listening..”