The cold and foggy weather of December will say sayonara soon. Some of us who tried to give the impression of being a “good shepherd” in this revered month must invoke the Real Shepherd that our good-heartedness may continue to grow and not wither like flower in the hot summer sun. Mind you, I was almost veiled by the true meaning of this symbolic expression as I overly reacted to some good shepherds who seemed to have overlooked the organic unity of the universe.
After munching an afternoon snack, I (along with my two younger kids) waited for my husband to fetch us from the house of an older friend named Chuchie, whom we visited. But I was triggered to tag along with her to visit the Good Shepherd community, which accordingly was only a short distance from her residence near a chapel where she wanted to attend Mass.
I was then reminded of a Chinese nun from a Good Shepherd community I once met in a grocery store. She was skinny in her senior years. While waiting in a line to pay my groceries, her uneasy silence grabbed my attention. Since she was holding only few items, I offered her my spot that perchance may ease her worried mind.
While the cashier calculated her bills, I befriended the nun. “You must be in a hurry sister. I hope you don’t mind if ask you what congregation do you belong?”
“Thank you for offering your spot. I am from a Good Shepherd community. Actually we are nursing sick children in one charity home. I am in a rush and I need to be home right away.” Her sweet and soft voice (not to forget the sick children) melted my heart. She talked to me in a good manner.
“I have a group of friends who bond together and help others in our own little ways. I hope we could visit your place one of these days.” I smiled.
“Yes, sure.” She said. She paid her bills and bade goodbye.
As I recalled this incident, I was motivated to visit the community. I thought if we go along with Chuchie, I might be able to visit the charity home and meet the senior nun once again.
Few minutes passed we arrived at the good shepherd community. Since we were both first time “explorers” of the said area, we went for a walk round few blocks searching for the small chapel and almost became the lost shepherds! Suddenly a vehicle stopped behind us.
A priest of medium build, seated in front of a four-wheeled vehicle curiously asked us where we were heading. What a coincidence of station! He said he was going to the same chapel to perform the ceremony for the Mass and so he offered us a ride.
Finally we reached our journey’s end! As I saw the sign of the charity home fronting the place of worship, I thought it must have been the place where the sick children were nursed. We entered the compound and greeted two nuns who were kind enough to meet and entertain us. We introduced ourselves and inquired about the nun I met in the store. But before we got an answer, one nun was a bit shocked in disbelief not only after knowing the different creeds Chuchie and I embraced but why and how we became friends. Oh sister, do not look at us in surprise! Two colors can always unite together and become one unique hue.
Alas, the senior nun was not around accordingly.
Anyway, after few minutes, we excused ourselves. We thanked her and moved out from the charity home. When the Mass was about to start, Chuchie excused herself and went inside the chapel, while we sat on the bench, a meter away from the entrance door. I then informed my hubby to fetch us from this area.
What a surprise when a nun in her early fifties, who ushered devotees to enter the chapel, suddenly approached us.
“Why don’t you enter inside and attend the Mass?” Her Indian accent was apparent.
“It’s okay sister.” I flashed a warm smile.
“You will not attend Mass?” She had a burning curiosity.
“Yes, we will not attend Mass. We will stay here and wait for our service to arrive.” I replied to her with due regard.
“Why don’t you attend mass?” Her brows furrowed with innocence.
“We embraced the Islamic tradition. We do not attend Mass.” I replied. Of course she had no idea what creed I belonged to, though, the small veil (bandana) tied around my head was not enough to give her the hint.
Suddenly she flared up at us.
“I see. But this is our place of worship. I don’t want people walking to and fro or loitering outside our place of worship. Stay on the other side of the building and wait there.” Her words shocked me.
But sister, we are not walking to and fro! I wanted to blurt out these words and roared with annoyance. But calmness surrounded me.
My goodness! Her sarcastic voice was obvious. How could I witness an angry look from the tantalizing eyes of an Indian woman, let alone a nun? She seemed annoyed with our presence, as she had bluntly stricken us with her words. Perhaps her persecution complex was triggered when her religious belief did not match with our own faith.
“Okay sister, no problem.” I replied.
We then walked our way to the other side and texted Chuchie that the car was almost near to fetch us. Few minutes later, Chuchie came out and waved goodbye. We mounted the car and left.
According to Mehmet Oz, “The opposite of anger is not calmness, its empathy.”
Well, you might call me an empty-headed shepherd had I remained blind and failed to ignore the sunny side of life: Never mark out someone’s frame of mind because wisdom manifests itself in different “vessels”, so to speak.
Now I knew the reason why I tagged along with a friend as I reveled in gratitude, for the “cracked vessel” I encountered along the way must have been the “good shepherd” that had increased my empathy! -JoyWadi