Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sheep, Shepherd or Dog?

Today was the culmination of a unit about sheep with my first graders. I read them the story of "The Shepherd Boy". It tells of a little boy, Ben, who rises early each morning to care for his father's 50 sheep. He has two dogs to help gather them and direct them through the canyon, across a mesa, and to a secret spring where lot's of fresh green grass grows. Upon returning home and counting the sheep, Ben discovers there are 49, as opposed to the 50 he started out with. He secures the sheep in a pen and runs after the one ewe lamb. He finds her under an old house hidden between rocks. He gently picks her up and carries her home. It is a beautiful story of dedication, love and compassion. My students were captivated. For every page I read and turned, they sat as still as statues and quiet as mice, with an occasional, "Aah!" blurted out here and there.

After reading it, I asked them about the sheep, "How did they feel? What did they do? What's their personality? How did they look?" As expected, their responses were quite simplistic. They responded with "Happy, sad, scared." They did not think of the word, "safe", but agreed the sheep must have felt safe because they were being cared for. As for what sheep did, I got responses like, "Eat grass. Walk a long time. Rest." Finally, after some coaxing, one little girl called out,"They follow the shepherd."

By this time, 12:30 p.m. was fast approaching and I wanted them to share with a buddy which one they would choose to be. I asked them, "If you could pick, would you rather be a sheep or a shepherd and why?" Their responses were extremely insightful! Most of them wanted to be sheep. All except for one little boy, who wanted to be a shepherd. When asked why, the boy responded, "Because then I can get money for taking care of the sheep and I get to touch them." The others explained, "Sheep are soft and puffy; I want to be the baby; I want to be the lamb and be carried." My sole entrepreneur, shepherd enthusiast, asked me, "What do you want to be?"
I paused for a moment to think and responded, "Sometimes I want to be a sheep and have someone take care of me and other times I want to be the Shepherd and take care of others."
"Which do you want to be right now?," he persisted.

Once again I had to pause,think, and listen to my heart's cry. "I probably want to be the Shepherd now because I want to take care of sheep."

Over lunch, I asked another boy, "What would you be? A shepherd or a sheep?"
He surprised me by saying, "I want to be the dog that protects the sheep from the wolves."

Overall, I was encouraged and enlightened by each of my students' responses today. Most like to be sheep. They want the security of being cared for, while another wants to gain a reward and nurture, and yet a third to love and protect.
In God's eyes we are all sheep. His sheep in a pasture. Each has a different role, but all are needing to follow and be cared for. I must admit, I have not felt like following much. I like to be the one leading and yet I know I still need to be cared for and carried safely home.

Matthew 18:3 "And he said, 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven..."

1 comment:

  1. Leigh,
    You are teaching those children some wonderful truths...you go girl!