The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd

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8 x 11 in. Signed Print

This icon holds a lot of meaning for me. It was painted for a Parish that is dear to my heart, The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Athens, Ohio. The people of the parish were an integral part to our mission, work, and community life of the Good Earth Farm where I lived and worked for six years. The community at the farm grew and gleaned produce for the many food pantries in the area, inviting anyone in the Athens community to join us planting, harvesting, and delivering food, collecting eggs, feeding pigs, and shearing sheep. There is much to be said about the conversations and connection that comes from weeding an entire row of carrots with a complete stranger. Our real work was about communion. We hoped our work as farmers brought us a greater connection to Creation and the marginalized. We hoped to be a sign for the dignity of work and the reverent use of resources. We wished to balance the roles and responsibilities that uplift the common good while respecting the individuals' need for creativity and autonomy. To be signs of peace while working side by side. Most Shepherds in Jesus’ day would spend weeks with their flock out in the wilderness. The Shepherd would even drink the milk of the ewes for sustenance. He needed them as much as they needed him. The Good Shepherd is not a sign of a Jesus who rules over us, or telling us what to do, or of our almighty benefactor. Rather, it is a sign that the world-like humanity is a place where God communes with us. The relationship of humanity to creation isn’t just to ensure its flourishing, or prevent its extinction, or worse, consume our allotted share of it and dominate it. It is to bring creation into the relationship of praise and thanksgiving and see it all, and our very lives, as gifts. To all of my fellow Good Earth Farm companions, The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, The Diocese of Southern Ohio, to the many groups, organizations, Congregations, lone individuals, interns, and priests who joined us on our way, this icon is for you.