Shepherding Shepherds

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Is the desire for solitude a positive trait? How do we balance reclusive behavior with the greater ideals of refining humanity and elevating the universe? In other words: Is the ideal to connect to the world, or to disconnect? One must have extended solitude and hitbodedut self-reflective prayer , examining ideas, deepening thoughts, and expanding the mind, until finally the soul will truly reveal itself, unveiling some of the splendor of its brilliant inner light. This is best accomplished through silence and isolation. The intent of this withdrawal is ultimately to have a positive impact on the larger world, and not for mere personal spiritual fulfillment.

The goal is not to engage in a personal spiritual path that is disassociated from the rest of the world. Rather, the aspiration is the opposite—the solitude of the shepherd ultimately enables him to reconnect and even provide for the larger world on a spiritual level.

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The silence of the shepherd is not just the absence of speech. It is a sublime language of silence, flowing from an outpouring of the soul, a vehicle of ruah hakodesh Divine inspiration. The depths of the soul demand silence. Silence is full of life, revealing treasures from the beauty of wisdom. Even with wireless access, are we able to access the inner recesses of our own being? Rebbe Nahman of Breslov teaches that a Jew should spend one hour a day in hitbodedut.

This means that every Jewish person should set aside a significant period of time to simply be with God. Not to pray formally, study, or engage in mitzvot —rather, to simply be. It can include mundane conversation with God, or soul-wrenching self-analysis. In this sacred time we can come to taste the Divine encounter that our forefathers taught us through their example as shepherds.

This one hour of being with God—of simply being—will come to inform how we are and what we do in the world. This is the source of many of the environmental problems we face today. A society that is driven by consumption and industrial development can overlook deforesting the rainforests or irrevocably and negatively impacting the climate.

It is precisely the accessing of our inner selves that enables us to encounter the larger picture of our own reality. If all people, from the average consumer to the corporate CEO, dedicated time each day to rekindle their own inner-potential as vehicles for God in the world, their use of the natural world would be informed by their relationship with the Creator of the natural world.

In modern times, shepherding has changed dramatically. The abolition of common lands in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth century moved shepherding from independent nomads to employees of massive estates. Some families in Africa and Asia have their wealth in sheep, so a young son is sent out to guard them while the rest of the family tend to other chores. Wages are higher than was the case in the past. Keeping a shepherd in constant attendance can be costly. Also, the eradication of sheep predators in parts of the world have lessened the need for shepherds.

In places like Britain, hardy breeds of sheep are frequently left alone without a shepherd for long periods of time. More productive breeds of sheep can be left in fields and moved periodically to fresh pasture when necessary. Hardier breeds of sheep can be left on hillsides. The sheep farmer will attend to the sheep when necessary at times like lambing or shearing. First Shepherd's Fair was announced to take place in the Cyprus Village of Pachna, on August 31, , in the printed editions of Cyprus Weekly and in the Greek language daily, Phileleftheros.

Shepherding Ministry: Who are the Shepherds?

European exploration led to the spread of sheep around the world, and shepherding became especially important in Australia and New Zealand where there was great pastoral expansion. In Australia squatters spread beyond the Nineteen Counties of New South Wales to elsewhere, taking over vast holdings called properties and now stations. Once driven overland to these properties, sheep were pastured in large unfenced runs. There, they required constant supervision. Lambing time further increased the shepherd's responsibilities.

Shepherding was an isolated, lonely job that was firstly given to assigned convict servants. The accommodation was usually poor and the food was lacking in nutrition, leading to dysentery and scurvy. When free labour was more readily available others took up this occupation. Some shepherds were additionally brought to Australia on the ships that carried sheep and were contracted to caring for them on their arrival in the colony.

Sheep owners complained about the inefficiency of shepherds and the shepherds' fears of getting lost in the bush. Typically sheep were watched by shepherds during the day, and by a hut-keeper during the night. Shepherds took the sheep out to graze before sunrise and returned them to brush-timber yards at sunset. The hut-keeper usually slept in a movable shepherd's watch box placed near the yard in order to deter attacks on the sheep. Dogs were also often chained close by to warn of any impending danger to the sheep or shepherd by dingoes or natives. During the s many shepherds left to try their luck on the goldfields causing acute labour shortages in the pastoral industry.

This labour shortage leads to the widespread practice of fencing properties, which in turn reduced the demand for shepherds. An s census of fencing in New South Wales recorded that 2.

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Boundary riders and stockmen replaced shepherds working on foot, who have not been employed in Australia and New Zealand since the start of the 20th century. Dumuzid , later known as Tammuz, was an important rural deity in ancient Mesopotamian religion , who was revered as the patron god of shepherds.

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Metaphorically, the term "shepherd" is used for God, especially in the Judeo-Christian tradition e. Psalm 23 , Ezekiel 34 , and in Christianity especially for Jesus , who called himself the Good Shepherd. It may also be worth noting that many biblical figures were shepherds, among them the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob , the twelve tribes , the prophet Moses , King David , and the Old Testament prophet Amos , who was a shepherd in the rugged area around Tekoa [14]. In the New Testament , angels announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds.

The same metaphor is also applied to priests , with Roman Catholic , Church of Sweden and other Lutheran , and Anglican bishops having the shepherd's crook among their insignia see also Lycidas. In both cases, the implication is that the faithful are the "flock" who have to be tended. This is in part inspired by Jesus's injunctions to Peter, "Feed my sheep", which is the source of the pastoral image in Lycidas.

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The term " Pastor ", originally the Latin word for "shepherd", is now used solely to denote the clergy of most Christian denominations. The Good Shepherd is one of the thrusts of Biblical scripture. This illustration encompasses many ideas, including God's care for his people. The tendency of humans to put themselves into danger's way and their inability to guide and take care of themselves apart from the direct power and leading of God is also reinforced with the metaphor of sheep in need of a shepherd.

According to Muhammad , the Prophet of Islam , every messenger of God had the occupation of being a shepherd at one point in their lives, as he himself was as a young man. Sikhism also has many mentions of shepherd tales. There are many relevant quotations, such as "We are the cattle, God almighty is our shepherd. This concept has also been used frequently by critics of organized religion to present an unflattering portrayal.

The shepherd, with other such figures as the goatherd , is the inhabitant of idealized Arcadia , which is an idyllic and natural countryside. These works are, indeed, called pastoral , after the term for herding.


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The first surviving instances are the Idylls of Theocritus , and the Eclogues of Virgil , both of which inspired many imitators such as Edmund Spenser 's The Shepheardes Calender. The shepherds of the pastoral are often heavily conventional and bear little relation to the actual work of shepherds.

Shepherds and shepherdesses have been frequently immortalized in art and sculpture. In the poem "The passionate shepherd to his love", by Christopher Marlowe, a shepherd is depicted as a partaker of rural paradise, and capable of giving things worth more than that a town resident could give. The shepherd, in such works, appears as a virtuous soul because of his living close to nature, uncorrupted by the temptations of the city. So Edmund Spenser writes in his Colin Clouts Come Home Againe of a shepherd who went to the city, saw its wickedness, and returned home wiser, and in The Faerie Queene makes the shepherds the only people to whom the Blatant Beast is unknown.

Many tales involving foundlings portray them being rescued by shepherds: Oedipus , Romulus and Remus , the title characters of Longus 's Daphnis and Chloe , and The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare. These characters are often of much higher social status than the characters who save and raise them, the shepherds themselves being secondary characters. Her lover is a porcelain chimney sweep with a princely face "as fair and rosy as a girl's", completely unsmudged with soot.



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