Sunday, January 2, 2011

And there were shepherds in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night...

I see shepherds on a weekly basis- herding their sheep and goats down the street, through the McDonalds parking lot, and in the valleys outside the city. Cars at honk for them to move out of the way, their shabby beards match the dirty wool of the animals, and while they push and beat their sheep through upscale neighborhoods, their education and status is far beneath that of the Arab families that live around me. In the city shepherds are a nuisance, and in the surrounding desert, they are simple people on a continual search for water, traveling from oasis to oasis over dirt and stony paths.

This holiday season when I read Luke 2, I have a new understanding.

Desert Hike

"As hard as it to believe that the dry desolate desert can yield endless varieties of flowers, it is equally hard to imagine that our loneliness is hiding unknown beauty." - Henri Nouwen (Reaching Out)

A few weeks ago some friends and I ventured out on a hike in the desert. What began as a walk through a dry and rocky valley became an ascent up scattered waterfalls. I was refreshed to find that there could be a place so beautiful, and at the same time so unexpected and hidden! As I read Reaching Out, I am reminded that the same is true in our lives.