God is Our Shepherd

We make space for the enormity of events that we have all been witness to over the last fortnight. Not only liturgically with the Risen Christ in and amidst us, but with our dearly departed Loved Ones, who, while no longer physically with us, are still deeply present and in the forefront of our minds and hearts. We make space for the endless wonderings, for the sadness, for the happy memories and for our grief, as we adjust to our loved ones no longer being present physically and continuing bonds with him in Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm

R: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

In verdant pastures he gives me repose;

beside restful waters he leads me;

He refreshes my soul.

R: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me in right paths

for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk in the dark valley

I fear no evil; for you are at my side.

With your rod and your staff

that gives me courage.

R: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You spread the table before me

in the sight of my foes;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

R: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Only goodness and kindness follow me

all the days of my life;

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

for years to come.

This beautiful psalm, which is often read at funerals, is also, perhaps not coincidentally, the psalm of the fourth Sunday of Easter.  It speaks to the place that holds us in the loving hands of God in life and death.  We imagine that all of our lost loved ones could be there right now, in the green pastures, with no more wants, at peace, shepherded by Jesus in whose arms he is enfolded.  

Both they and we are being guided, held and protected in this place of uncertainty on the journey, and we can both seek the guidance to be held with spaciousness and shepherded in the loving arms of God as we walk through the valley of our deep grief.  Giving space to grieve fully, by entering into the great mystery of life and death, we are told in this ancient psalm will lead to goodness and kindness as we enter the house of the Lord.  

With that, we invite you to take a moment to look into yourselves and contemplate the following:

Reflections

  • Who shepherds you throughout your grief?
  • Do you feel like you are a shepherd to anyone in their grief?
  • How can you make space for your grief, to give it the time to be composted into fertile living ground?

Final Words

Our challenge in life and grief is to make space and hold the space for our feelings that get so torn and confused with the death of loved ones and endings in general.  In our community of Heartfelt, this is something with which we are all very familiar. 

Loss is part of life, and to live fully, we are invited to see the verdant pastures that provide repose alongside the dark valleys that hold the unknown and force us to tread uncharted terrain. If we can do this, though, If we can muster up the courage and fortitude to see and hold both, we will be anointed, we will drink from the cup, and we will be received with unconditional love in the Kingdom of God both now and in death.