When I went home this past weekend, I thought that I was going to get a break for the weekend. I thought that by going home to visit my family and friends, I would get to have a relaxing weekend and not have to stress about anything. I was leaving school and all the stresses I had behind me in Lexington while I got away. I even thought, no offense Mr. Battista, that I wasn’t going to have to think about the word “Pastoral,” which has been ringing in my head for the past three and a half weeks now. I was wrong! Ever since I have entered this class, I can’t escape it. ITS EVERYWHERE!
For starters, the whole idea behind my leaving and going home is one of the key ideas of pastoral that I have written about two or three times now. This idea is to escape to a better place. This goes along with the form of retreat and return. This simply means a retreat to the countryside, or place of simplicity, and return to the city, or complexities of life. My whole reason for going home in the first place was to get away from Lexington and have a relaxing weekend. I was retreating to Paducah, which is pretty much the same as the countryside, where things would be simple for a few days. Then after that I would return to Lexington for school and all of my bills, which are still unpaid. As soon as I realized this, I knew I would be thinking about it the rest of the weekend.
As we have discussed in class, another idea of pastoral is the imagery of pastoral. When we talked about it in class, there was a large focus on the sheep in the pasture and their shepherd. The shepherd is suppose to be the person looking out for the sheep and protecting them. Along with protecting them, the shepherd is suppose to guide the sheep and direct them. But what we have not discussed is the shepherd’s right hand man. During my time at home, I went to church with my parents. As I stepped into the door of the buidling, my old pasture stood in lobby and without hesitation said “The Bell Sheep has returned!” At that very moment I gave out a little laugh and shook my head as the word “Pastoral” popped back into my mind.
A bell sheep is a sheep in the flock that has a bell around it’s neck. The bell sheep always follows the shepherd. Wherever the shepherd goes, the sheep is sure to follow! It has the bell around its neck so that it can be heard throughout the pasture. The bell sheep is supposed to be the leader of the flock and lead the other sheep where they are supposed to go. My pasture called me the bell sheep because he said that I was the leader of all my friends and in the church. He said that whenever he watched me, whatever I did, the others did too. I was the bell sheep. Also, he said that I need to stick close to God who is the shepherd. This reminds me of the line in Psalms 23 when it says “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” God is seen as the ultimate shepherd who looks over his people, who are the sheep, and protects them.
Over the course of the past few weeks, I have been noticing small things like this. I can be looking at a yard, a patch of grass, or even my hard wood floor and automatically think of pastoral. I have learned that it’s literally everywhere. So no matter where I go, whether its home, church, or here in Lexington, the word “Pastoral” has been imprinted in my mind forever!