Rumors of a Shepherd in the Wild

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By Corinne Shark  | Instagram: @thesaltyshark 

Way out here in the wilderness, outside the old crumbling walls, out past everything I was always so sure I knew, out under neon cathedral skies, out beyond the margins of belonging, out along the frayed edges of my weary soul, there are rumors of a Shepherd. A Mender of broken hearts. A Healer of deepest wounds. An echo of his voice ricochets against the walls of my spirit and draws me further out to wander, further into wonder.

I have spent my entire life trying to leave this sun-scorched land. And I have. Again and again, I have set out. Sometimes to a neighboring state, sometimes to a foreign country. Always responding to the next divine invitation. Palms always up. Gaze always on the horizon line. A wild river running to the sea, I have resisted and refused this hostile desert with every breath in my lungs and every time I have returned, only to hold my breath until my next away.

Until now.

Until all the best intentions went up in flames

and all the well-laid plans burned to the ground.

All the sacrifice came up empty.

All the next steps went up in smoke.

Until, bloodied and bruised, the only invitation was home.

Stay awhile.

 Breathe deeply.

 Look around.

 Listen closely.

 Come, follow Me.

In the cool of every morning I wander out along the edges of myself in search of elusive shadows, to listen for slightest echoes of this Shepherd. A glimpse of his hem. A shimmer of a holy trace. Any prism of light to show me what he is like. Every morning, out past my hope and my rage, out beyond the headlines of injustice and the weight of my own grief, way way out where the moral arc of the universe has been bent low and touches the earth, I follow a breadcrumb trail of beautiful resistance. Each crumb unraveling the rules I used to be so good at keeping, dismantling the expectations I used to be so good at meeting, breathing into me of my truest nature. My deepest design. The land I come from. The wild place where my bones are buried.

You were made for this.

I discover saguaro queens standing tall, ribs expanding, stretching, opening to hold all the water they need to rise and thrive under the harshest heat. Prickly pear—equal parts lover and fighter—popping sweet fuchsia fruit among long, protective spikes guarding the goodness until it is good and ready. Barrels bowing low with their flower crowns. Cholla dripping with secret evening blooms. Aloe, a healing balm along the path. Agave sweetening the dust on the tongue. Coyotes locating their pack with a cry. Wrens building shelters safe between spines. Hawks unapologetic of the hunt as death always leads to more life. Mountains rising as warrior guardians, arms outstretched and palms turned toward sky. Valleys softened and hollowed to catch all the water they can carry, bursting with veriditas. Clouds thundering of justice, bearing the strength to rumble with tension and the power to strike a hot spark. Each twist and turn revealing signs of life.

This sun-scorched land is alive.

As if for the first time, I feel the desert’s howling wind coursing through my veins as the Spirit runs wild through the desert of my soul. Singing down the sunset on my sorrow and calling up the sunrise of my hope. All this time I have misunderstood her arid gift, assuming her barren and burned, abandoned and forsaken. I have feared her ways would become my ways, that I would be deserted and left for dead. I have hid from her heat and resisted her parched cracks, unable to see that her very existence is an act of resistance. In defiance of her hostile climate she dares to thrive, teeming with life under the blazing sun as if she were made to face its fury. Although life out here is small and in the peak of blazing heat often goes unseen, this desert, and so my soul, is anything but left for dead.

It is way out here along the outskirts that I recognize the Shepherd’s voice humming deep of my own wild nature, permission to sing my own howling song. I may be a Child of the Sea, but the further out I wander in pursuit of him, the more I am becoming a Woman of the Wild. Bones stronger from the mending. Heart softened from the breaking. Skin toughened and wrinkled under the sun. On the lightest breeze I catch a hint of milk and honey. I close my eyes and breathe deep to receive an ancient promise. Along the way crumbs of bread and drops of wine, once water, whisper: This way. Keep going. Signposts guiding me toward the miracle of being made new.

Way out in here in the wild, out past dangerous lines in the sand and slippery slopes,  out past approval and earning, out beyond all the saving that was never mine to do and all the grace-giving that’s already been done, out along the sutured edges of my healing soul, there are rumors of a Shepherd.

And he is wilder than I ever knew.

_____________________

About Corinne:

Hey sister, can we wander together awhile? I am a truth storyteller, a wild grace-seeker, a relentless justice-believer, a shameless freedom-breather and an underground soul-care dealer. During two years overseas in Thailand with my family it was my honor to co-create Soul Sanctuary: rhythms of rest for women in global work and the justice sector. These days you can find me rooting down deep in the desert of Arizona, following where the soul care work is leading, digging up the beauty and the bones of my own healing and stringing words together about it along the way.

Instagram: @thesaltyshark
Instagram: @soul.sanctuary
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