Meeting the Shepherd

In fact, what separates man from divine Reality is but a thin partition: God is infinitely close to man, but man is infinitely far from God.

This partition, for man, is a mountain; man stands in front of a mountain which he must remove with his own hands. He digs away the earth, but in vain, the mountain remains; man however goes on digging, in the name of God. And the mountain vanishes. It was never there.

— Frithjof Schuon, Echoes of Perennial Wisdom

['Meeting the Shepherd' by Roderick MacIver]
Meeting the Shepherd by Roderick MacIver

I cropped this image and downloaded as a screensaver (wallpaper) for my cell phone. I look at it often throughout the day. It has this haunting, longing call for me, for Him.

The first line of the quote above is true. We are the lost ones. God seeks us. We are far closer to home than we realize, but we are blind, unaware. And so we must struggle to return. The quote above employs a metaphor of digging through a mountain that is really not there.

For me, and many others, the metaphor is a journey, like climbing a mountain to get back home where He is. And that is where the image above comes in, to finally meet the Shepherd at the end of the journey, at the end of the climb, cresting the hilltop and seeing Him, face to face.

I cannot climb one foot up the mountain. He must come to me. The lost sheep does not go looking for the shepherd. The shepherd looks for his lost sheep. I must watch and wait. On a second look at the image, maybe it is the shepherd who is walking up the hill to find me, to meet me.

As the quote above implies, the image is wrong because the mountain is not really there. The Shepherd is already here. I’m not really lost, except that it looks that way from my own little, narrow point of view. I am blind.

I would not be surprised when I finally make it home to realize that I never really left.

Yet this image still calls to my heart, reminding me of my longing to meet the Shepherd. It also reminds me that there really is no mountain to climb. Heaven is where God is, and God is here and now, infinitely close to me. And so just maybe, heaven and home, is right here too. But still, I must journey…