Just Starting My Penance

It’s a holy time of year for Christians around the world.  The days of denial and penance are ending while prayers for protection continue. I admit I pray a lot and hopefully, that makes up for the fact that I didn’t fully ‘give up’ what I planned to ‘give up’ at the start of lent six weeks ago.  The God I believe in won’t be standing at the pearly gates upon my arrival shaking his finger at me saying, “Remember that time when you were quarantined at home for weeks on end yet you chose to creep on social media even though you gave it up for lent?” I do envision that same God shaking his finger at a shepherd who failed to shepherd the sheep he was hired to shepherd saying, “Peter, my evil and unfaithful servant, you are at the wrong address.”

Let’s be clear, being a good shepherd isn’t the same as being a bad shepherd. Good shepherds shepherd. They anticipate your needs, show you the way, and protect you. Bad shepherds on the other hand, with their four fingers and a thumb that needs to be stuck somewhere, tell you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Sometimes, the really bad ones claim they shepherded you even though they didn’t. Those are what I call Peter Principaled Shepherds. They started as a farm hand who cleaned the sheep pen. Someone they knew saw how much they enjoyed being around sheep ‘n shit so they moved them up to shepherd.  However, they are bad at shepherding so they will never be promoted to a more senior level position at the farm; they rose to the level of incompetence. A Peter Principaled Shepherd, or Peter, thinks he has control over his sheep and determines their destiny, but he doesn’t.  The good sheep know they’re special, that there’s more to life than one farm, and that good shepherds do exist.

I know that about now you are asking why at this most holy time of the year I am writing about prayers and dicks, I mean Peters, and seeming to misspell the word ‘principled’.  And to be honest, it’s a great question. The truth is, in recent days I’ve realized my penance has to start all over again and not because I creeped on social media. It’s because I started hoping that my vision about the shaking finger and the shepherd who failed to shepherd the sheep he was hired to shepherd will come true and I don’t want to be his neighbor.

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