My shepherd is the key for me to live where beauty's found,
mid sunny pastures, gentle hills where flowered fields abound;
And also in the barren wasteland most devoid of life
with little there but insects, snakes -- unmitigated strife.
It seems so simple, so completely obvious to me
To stay within that small protected space where I can see
The figure of my shepherd walking near me by my side
And all I need to do is to stay close and to abide --
Abide in close proximity where I can see his face,
where I can sense his reassuring omnipresent grace.
It seems so easy, so much so that there should be no qualm --
Just walk with him enjoying his protection, sense of calm.
I marvel at the midnight sky with constellations bright,
The stars portray a godlike scene amidst the heat of night;
They form their patterns as a roadmap which our shepherd sees
Then uses them to guide his flock toward cool and gentle breeze.
So how is it that I so frequently am so bemused?
I struggle to maintain the pace then find myself confused.
I see him walking just ahead and, coming right behind,
I turn my head and suddenly my shepherd I can't find.
Sometimes a swamp will suddenly appear beneath my feet
And, struggling to swim, I try to crawl up on the side.
But slippery slopes or mangled roots conspire to defeat
my efforts to regain my place -- I'm sometimes terrified.
At times I glance at something near while following his lead
and, at that moment, fall on to a rock or sharpened reed.
I rise and realize I had lost my focus -- now I see
how just a moment of distraction separated me --
It separated me from focusing on what is sure --
The only way, the only truth, the life completely pure.
Thank God for my dear shepherd's walk, his sacrifice for me
For he has guaranteed my life with him eternally.
The flock is vast with sheep as far as mortal eyes can see.
The shepherd calls them but most seem oblivious to me.
They seem to be attracted by a subtle, evil force
which calls them then compels them to depart the shepherd's course.
Sometimes when I am close to him I see his face and eyes;
I've watched my shepherd's troubled glance perusing cloudy skies.
But far more poignant revelations on his face appear
When sheep which had been close by him start wandering too near --
Too near the outskirts of the range where dangers lay in wait,
where cunning ploys entrap those sheep which fall for demon's bait.
It all seems likely harmless there with no apparent cause
to fear those craggy rocks which hide the crouching jackal's jaws.
O how I wish the other sheep could see what I can glean --
the signs upon my shepherd's countenance which few have seen.
They would not wander far astray in quest of false allure;
But rather see the treasure here, omnipotent and pure.
What must I do to reach the ewes and rams of this vast horde,
To inculcate within their hearts this life providing chord?
Stay close to him, and be not swayed by small distractions lest
We lose our focus then, detained, we're waylaid from our quest.
Oh shepherd you who saved us from a myriad of hells
Along this arduous journey so replete with evil spells;
God bless you, you who forfeited your life, your throne above;
With you we'll spend eternity enveloped by your love!
This poem was a finalist in the July 2019 poetry contest