One movie I recall when I was a teenager was called the Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner. It was the story of a teen who went off the tracks in England in the late 50s early 60s, and ended up incarcerated in a prison system known as Borstal, where underage miscreants were taken from the their parents and housed until they had “done their time”.
In the movie the teenage boy, who was more than rebellious in nature, found himself getting involved in the cross-country team at the prison. He found solace in running, being with nature, a release from the hostage style lifestyle he felt he was living. A way to connect with his loneliness in a spiritual way. I won’t go on just in case you decide to watch the movie, which, by the way, has a very unexpected ending. This is not a feel-good movie, so don’t take this as a recommendation, more as an observation for this reflection.
Today we may find ourselves in another place, particularly those of you in a leadership position. We are having to manage ourselves, our remit, our staff, remotely. This may in itself, illuminate a type of loneliness which is not familiar to us. While we are together in whatever constitutes our teams, the family, friends, work colleagues and others we interface with there is nowhere to go to with new feelings and challenges which face us.
The Gospel of this recent weekend may inform us. The Good Shepard is an example of servant leadership, which perhaps has never been more requested of us. We have to care for the sheep, lie down over the “gate” during the evening to protect them for predators, call them when they are lost, and ensure they know our voice is heard when they call out because they are lost.
In a way, we are all sheep, but we are also the Shepard. Just as St. Paul calls us the put on the Mind of Christ, Jesus tells us in the parable of the Good Shepard we are not just cared for, but we are to be carers, Shepherds if you like as well.
So this week, maybe we can recognize that oscillation between sheep and shepherd. When we are called to lead, to lead with the love of Christ Jesus. We should understand this more than the average shepherd, given that we are sheep as well.
Something to pray on. Am I Shepard or sheep today? Or both?