In Sisters, Oregon, one of my favorite shops is called “The Hen’s Tooth”. One year, when I was working as an assistant pastor and was on my way home from the Oregon Women’s Retreat in Sun River, I stopped in at the shop. As usual, I was just window-shopping. One picture caught my eye and indelibly marked itself on my mind. It was a well-known picture of a young woman holding a lamb. The lamb’s mother stood patiently beside the young shepherdess.
The picture was in lovely maroon hues, beautifully framed and matted. I wanted that picture! Being a shepherdess myself, married to a pastor-shepherd, I knew it beautifully portrayed my role, that of caring for the young lambs and the sheep of our congregation. But alas, I had not the $40 on the price tag.
However, when I got home, the picture stayed in my mind. I must have told my friend, Pam, about it, though I hardly remember doing it. As time went on, the memory of that lovely picture faded from my mind. But not from Pam’s.
Not too long after that, the funding for my position was discontinued, and I was devastated. Because I had so greatly loved my role as “pastor,” I could not imagine moving on to another job and wondered just what my place would be. It took nine months before another job opened up, a “secular” job and one that I loved but could not compare to that of the spiritual job of a pastor. Out loud, I must have asked my friend Pam, “What is my place?”
In early 2005, when we were moving away from Oregon, Pam stopped by. After we had visited for some time, she produced a carefully-wrapped package, packed-to-move. With care, I undid the long pieces of brown paper, until a beautiful golden-framed picture emerged—the lovely shepherdess with her lamb and its mother. With it came a card with this message: “Becki, this is your place.” I cried, amazed at Pam’s memory and her sensitivity to me.
Here in Missouri, that picture is proudly displayed, along with the note card with its affirming message. The card is always shown along with the picture. Whether paid or voluntary, I am a shepherdess. I care for the women, the children, those new in the faith, and those who have lived their entire lives in the church. It’s an honor and a privilege to love the lambs and the sheep, and it’s the place I most enjoy.