In Pastures May We Grow

I remember years ago entering my first day of kindergarten holding my father’s hand. Sitting with a puzzle of a lamb, putting the pieces together passing the time in anticipation of further instruction. Not much really has changed- well, in some ways.

I’m still putting the pieces together, a sheep roaming in familiar pastures. But the shepherd has since passed and I’ve grazed alongside different herds, foraging through life’s unchartered territory yet also circling back to what I know, returning to the land we hold most dear, the meadow we call home.

It’s easy to lose track of time as you frolic over the hills and travel forward with your friends. We get comfortable putting the pieces in their rightful place but the instruction is not always clear. Which piece goes where? Do you even have all the pieces?

It’s also not easy to know when to go, when to break from the herd. I went to see Wonder Woman with friends but the screen was dim and I assumed my eyes were at fault. It turned out the projector just needed a new lightbulb. Sometimes we’re not at fault. We just need a lens to see. A light to shine on what’s right in front of us.

In the film, Diana’s mother warns she may never return home if she leaves to help mankind. Diana responds, “Who will I be if I stay?”

Have you ever wondered what’s beyond the pasture? There’s a world you’re waiting for instruction to go see, but you fail to realize the instruction comes from within. The fields are rich with soil that you can grow.

Often, when the shepherd’s crook is stiff without its owner to yield it, we are left confused. Who do we look to for guidance? Without them, are we lost? Burdened by this inescapable emptiness fueled by what could be and where one should be, we are stagnant.

Fear rooted in the unknown and sadness of what once was can be paralyzing. But we can use these feelings to generate possibilities and discover a deeper understanding of the value of our life and the purpose we choose for it.

Life brings great joy as often as it does great pain. Loss occurs on every level, both directly and indirectly. It is in the face of destruction that we are reminded of our human fragility from which we can begin again.

Moments of pain cause the earth to shake. The familiar becomes dreaded as the land will never be the same. The fields we circle back to will never bear the fruit of past harvest and we must dig deeper to find new soil from which to grow. Or we must leave to make a new home, where we haven’t before.

Whether you physically uproot your life or make choices that alter your course where you are now, the shepherd’s staff is yours to bear. You decide your herd. You decide what you learn from each loss, each tremor in the ground beneath you. The light is there not to guide you but so you may see all there is before you.

And if you stay, who will you be? The losses aren’t supposed to fence you in. Yes, they are scary and especially when people pass, it’s frightening and you feel alone. But they have given you a chance to see their path, not necessarily to follow it, but to learn about what kind of choices you can make and the impact a life can have in influencing others.

You don’t get all the puzzle pieces at once. It’s not that simple. Some days pieces are there and other days they’re gone. I like to think you keep finding them along the way.

When you become weary from doubts and the unknown, cling to your staff and know its within your power to pick up, move and lead. You have a purpose and places to go and pieces to find. Don’t stop now. The mosaic of your life is just getting started.

Anthony Melf seeks purpose and meaning as he grapples with life’s most burning questions i.e. iced coffee or hot? He believes in the worth of each person and the power of self-belief. A proponent of honesty and self-awareness, Anthony sees change as possible wherever you are on your journey. And for your travels, he recommends humor, curiosity and a GPS because even if you feel lost along the way, there's always time to reroute to your destination.

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