The Shepherd They Left Behind

The Shepherd They Left Behind, 12/24/2014, Michael N. Johns

They woke me up in the middle of the night,
A boy of maybe 9 years,
They said they’d seen a miraculous sight,
“It’s not every day an angel appears,”
And angels’ songs then filled their ears.

“Take care of the sheep; we’re off to Bethlehem,
To see what we can find,
The angels said ‘a baby, a king, a treasured gem,’
Get out to the hillside where you’re assigned,”
I’m the shepherd they left behind.

I was relieved when they returned, finally
They came back all excited,
They said it was all true, reciting angels’ words to me,
But I went back to bed.
“You sound crazy,” was all I said.

I grew up and watched, waiting expectantly,
For the new king to take his throne,
But he was a carpenter who had no time for me,
A shepherd on a rocky hill, alone,
Making friends with the sheep and stones

It got harder to believe each time they tried
To convince me, their stories grew stale.
The elder shepherds grew old and died,
Never tiring of telling their tale.
The carpenter sawed, hammered, and nailed.

Then the carpenter started teaching, one day,
The rumor was, he could blow your mind,
I might have liked to hear what he had to say,
But the hillside was where I was assigned,
I’m the shepherd, still feeling left behind.

I sit, forgotten on my lonely hill,
Never feeling I’ll find my real self
A wasted life, empty, like a box to fill,
Abandoned, alone, dusty on a shelf,
With dreams into which I’ll never delve.

What can a shepherd do, beside
Watching sheep on a stupid hillside?
None other with which to confide,
Than sheep, and they’d run and hide.
Dreams?  What of dreams, when they’ve died?

I heard one day he said he was the “good shepherd,”
And my ears perked up a little bit
Could I have really heard what I thought I heard?
And people were sheep, like Isaiah’d writ’,
Could I ever do more than I did?

All I know is how to be a shepherd though:
Watch the sheep, feed the sheep, shear,
Rescue the wanderers, watch the herd grow,
Guard the sheep, feed the sheep, shear.
Those angels would have been something to hear.

What was the rest of the story?  I’d like details!
Could he come and teach me sometime?
I long for purpose beyond grassy bales!
I’m waiting, watching, praying to find,
The reason for the shepherd they left behind.

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