“The feeding of the sheep can be a shared responsibility.
My shepherds feed My sheep,
in preparation of a call,
in preparation for a journey,
in acceptance of a new beginning.
My shepherds feed the flock with oversight and care.
My shepherds feed the flock that has intermingled sheep and goats –
whose time has not yet come.
My shepherds may permit sheep to feed each other according to the diet,
according to the roughage,
according to the taste.
Those sheep that tender food will account for its effect –
bringing nourishment or sickness –
resulting from both the selection of the food and the wisdom of the sheep
that tendered such for consumption by a flock that paraded trust.
Those sheep that have tendered food found to be bitter,
that leaves sores within the mouth,
that causes stomachs later to vomit,
will each be marked by the shepherds as by raddle in the colour red.
Shepherds are to watch for sheep known to be marked with red for such as they will no longer feed the sheep,
will no longer share a diet,
will no longer lead to a new pasture,
will no longer open gates,
will no longer bleat a call,
will no longer bring the song from another shepherd.
Beware of sheep known to be red that wander in from distant flocks travelling the waterfall of pride –
that will contaminate the flock with a false quest that neither succours nor satisfies the appetite.
For such sheep,
in these days,
are but temporarily mistaken by the shepherds as sheep to be trusted with the lambs.
For they will soon gather the weak and bereft around them,
together with those too young to shear,
in the centre of the flock where their bleating causes havoc as discontent is spread.
Beware of a sheep that needs the drench of liberation for it will kick to escape to fresh pastures before
the raddle can be erased:
with false companionship,
walks to other flocks.
Beware of a sheep that would lead others to be slaughtered,
would promise food appealing to the palate,
would deny the quality of the pasture that surrounds the flock,
would accuse it of little nutrient,
would tempt a comparison without honour to the shepherd,
would accuse without foundation when on betrayal’s slippery slope.
For such a sheep was known in a flock of long ago.
Beware of a sheep that hides a history,
that claims the status of a sheep.
For a sheep that dwells within a flock soon creates a record of a journey –
of testimony –
of progress –
of knowledge –
from sharing within the flock.
For lone sheep are alone for a reason,
are beyond the reach of counsel,
have set attitudes of behaviour,
have beliefs not open to be changed,
are stunted in their growth,
have diminished spirits,
suffer enlarged souls as hermits from rebuke.
For such sheep will claim entitlements that do not exist,
will attempt to bleat without consent,
will share a testimony built on flights of fancy,
will direct without authority,
will pursue the boundaries of new vistas,
will hover in mid-stream not knowing where to settle.
there are goats in flocks that look and sound and act like sheep –
until the day of their unmasking when they will be seen in the true colours of what their souls declare.
The feeding of the sheep brings unity of purpose,
brings health to all the flock,
imparts knowledge of defence,
ensures all are dipped and clean.
The feeding of the sheep sees gambolling around the shepherds,
sees feet ready to be sent,
sees tongues that quiver in anticipation with arrows all prepared.
The feeding of the sheep is completed when new journeys are commenced in the company of a sword,
when sheep are all enamoured by the opening of horizons,
when sheep all have new tongues that no longer bleat,
when sheep have had their stomachs filled and all know their own ways home.
The feeding of the sheep brings honour to the shepherd as they depart now to feed others:
as they themselves now know the feeding from on high,
as they are affixed as jewels to the shepherd’s cloak –
the shepherd that suffered and rejoiced through all the seasons in his caring for his flock.”