No wonder we find metaphors about shepherds and sheep all throughout the Bible—here, in Jordan and the Holy Land, they are abundant. Just drive a bit outside Amman and you’ll see little boys cleaning their sheep in the river or an old man guiding his flock across the highway.
So it seemed quite appropriate with the Gospel reading at my last Mass at my English-language parish here spoke of the “good shepherd,” about the way God walks with us, and even carries us through life.
As I reflect on my time in Jordan and those I’ve met and come to love here, I realize that shepherds are even more plentiful than what I’ve seen in the Jordanian countryside. They are in my home and my university, in cabs and cafés. They have carried me during the last four months.
In the way that shepherds make a home for their flock in places that may be far away and new, my friends and family here have done the same for me.
When I was in Bethlehem recently, I bought a carved, wooden statue of Jesus carrying a small lamb. I was drawn to it because of the way in which it captured the way God has been with me throughout my time in Jordan—through those the shepherds who have sheltered me, feed me, and simply given me room to play and grow in this new place.
As I make my way back to the States, that statue will help me remember the shepherds I’ve met here, and the home that they will always provide for me here, whenever I return.