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In his The Book of Soul, Mark Nebo relates a conversation with the Abenake elder Joseph Bruchac who shared the lesson inherent in how the Diné (the Navajo) teach their children to care for flocks of sheep.[1]Rather than herding them, as we of European heritage are wont to do, the Diné children are taught to be present in the middle of the flock until the sheep accept them as one of their own. Then, they need not drive the sheep – they simply walk, and the sheep tag along.

God does not whip us or nip at our heels. God does not drive us or motivate us by fear. Instead, God simply became one of us, living in our midst. God in Jesus, the good shepherd. He comes to us and stays with us, saying little, until we are comfortable with him, until we accept him as for us, on our side, one of us. In intimate relationship, we naturally follow along wherever he goes. We love being with him. He loves being with us. With him near, we feel safe, no longer worried about wolves and lions, assured that even if we wander off, he will personally come to fetch us home.

When we simply sit with others, being present with them without expectations or agendas, they come to know and trust us. There is no need to coerce or manipulate or lord over. There is no need for power, other than the power of love.

[1] Nepo, Mark. The Book of Soul (p. 220). St. Martin's Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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