by Phyllis Thomas
9” x 9” acrylic on masa paper with white and gold thread
©phyllis thomas 2020
The LORD is my shepherd
I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside still waters,
He restores my soul.
Psalm 23:1-3a NIV
Pieces of Psalms; a meditation series
The Good Shepherd’s name in this psalm is Jehovah Rohi, the God of tender care. When I read Psalm 23 for this series I thought of the rolling hills in Tuscany, Italy where I attended an Artist-in-Residence Retreat in 2017. I remember standing at the farmhouse looking out over the rolling hills of green and gold and how peaceful I felt. Then I remembered a walk down the road to a stream of clear, clean water which perfectly mirrored the landscape and I felt refreshed. Even though I saw no sheep on the hills or valleys, I could imagine what they would have looked like on those hills and how they might have come to the stream to drink from the calm water.
Alongside that experience, this psalm was highlighted by a dear friend who fought cancer for a year and just recently lost her battle and was promoted to heaven. She shared on her Caringbridge site how Psalm 23 became the centerpiece for her meditation during her journey. Every night she and her family recited this psalm before she slept and she rested more soundly.
As usual I spent time reading and researching more deeply and coupled with these two experiences was brought closer to what it means to have a Good Shepherd:
He is present and has my best interest at heart
He manifests his tender care even in adversity
He lays down his life to protect mine
He demonstrates his care in all my wilderness wanderings
He seeks out and leads me to peaceful streams so I can drink deeply and rest
He takes me to green pastures that are flourishing with life
He is aware when I stray to the darkest valley and looks for and rescues me
He defends me from danger
He shows me honor and hospitality
He pursues me with his unfailing love
These are only summary statements but I wanted this piece to remind me God is worthy of the trust and confidence I have in Him because of who He is. I chose cool colors of green for the hills and valleys and blue for the stream to reflect the refreshment I have when I allow the shepherd to guide me. To keep with my use of stitching I chose light thread for the flock of sheep and one gold thread to represent the shepherd. Most of the action in this psalm is initiated from the shepherd but there is one final note that is important; the sheep spend so much time together with their shepherd, they know his voice and if they let him, he will lead them to safety, refreshment, peace and rest. I need to know my Savior so intimately that I respond to Him and allow Him to lead me to Still Waters.