To say I cry sometimes during Mass is the understatement of all time. Last Sunday was no exception. I was doing great until we got to the psalm. Rita sang it so beautifully! "Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from Death into Life!" It is a variation of the 23rd psalm. You know the one, "The Lord is my shepherd, there's nothing I shall want...surely goodness and mercy follow me..." It's a pretty standard funeral reading, and for good reason. Who doesn't want to think of their newly deceased loved one in the arms of their maker. That's not what makes me cry, however. It's much more personal than that.
I can't count how many times my soul has personally cried out these words. (Usually in this same tune, in fact.) Shepherd me! Draw me in, and don't let me stray too far from you. Keep me in mind, and in eyesight. I'm known to wander off and be easily distracted by the shiny things of life. Please, PLEASE, O God, keep seeking me out and keep bringing me back to the fold!
Shepherd me beyond my wants! I see something that looks like it might be tasty, so I wander over to it. It's what I want and I fight you for it. Of course you know better, you know that what I want is really poisonous to my soul, but I am a sheep. I want what I want when I want it! Lead me away, Lord. Protect me and shepherd me!
Shepherd me beyond my fears! When I am frozen with it. When I just can't move because the wolves appear to be everywhere, stalking me, licking their lips waiting to consume me. Shepherd me! Pick me up and carry me on your shoulders and calm me, telling me that you have me and I'm going to be alright! Shepherd me, O God, beyond my fears!
Shepherd me from death into life! When I am physically dead. When I am spiritually dead. When I am mentally drained of all that is me, shepherd me back in the way that only YOU can heal. You allowed me to experience my own death, and you were there for me. Escort me back to life. Not the life I had before, but a newer, fuller, more vibrant life, filled with your love and goodness. Surely, your goodness and mercy DOES follow me all the days of my life.
Thank you, O, God for shepherding me. Even before I knew I was your sheep.