I don't know a whole lot about sheep. I have met a few sheep, and I had some conversation with a delightful couple who were shepherds. I also worked briefly with a man who was literally a rocket scientist, but who also kept a herd of sheep. This man was letting us use 3 or 4 of his sheep for a Live Nativity. However, a couple of the sheep were close to giving birth. His concern for them and how we would treat them was tender and sweet. Frankly, I thought they were stubborn and dirty, but he obviously loved them. We were gentle and careful with the sheep, and they both gave birth to healthy lambs without any trouble not long after they played their roles in our enactment of Christ's birth.
My conversations with the older couple about their sheep taught me that shepherding is often about the art of understanding relationships and how change in one area creates change in another. My time with the scientist shepherd taught me more about loving those who are limited in their ability to return love or to understand how the actions of their shepherd were acts of love.
Gracious and loving Shepherd, you are ever vigilant on our behalf. You take care of us in ways that we don't see. Please help us to trust you and be gentle with us in our stubborn and sheep-like ways. Amen.