The Green Shepherd

The Green Shepherd

The Green Shepherd

In honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the author of “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”—a man who truly understood what it meant to be in an intimate relationship with Creation, I’m sharing a post that I wrote for my blog, on July 1, 2012.

I love the book Pride and Prejudice. I’ve read it over and over again. In fact, I’ve probably read it at least ten times. My husband doesn’t see the allure of reading the same book repeatedly. If he sees me with a book in hand, he’ll often say, “Reading Pride and Prejudice again?” with a smirk. I patiently tell him the reason that I re-read it is that I get something new out of it each time. (At least I think I tell him patiently.) Each time I read P & P I see a slightly different perspective or I catch a nuance to the dialog that I hadn’t noticed before. But that doesn’t just happen when I read. Not long ago, I had a similar experience during Mass.

As I sat in the pew, I found myself listening to the parable of the Good Shepherd from the book of John, chapter 10. In it, Jesus tells his disciples, I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.”

As those words washed over me, I had a thought — “This parable is about relationship!” The Good Shepherd cares for his sheep. He has a relationship with them. That’s why he’s so committed to caring for them. The sheep don’t belong to the hired man so, what does he care if they get eaten by wolves? He’ll just go get another job. I’ve heard this parable before, many times, in fact. But never had I thought about it in those terms. See? Repetition isn’t such a bad thing.

Then it occurred to me, “This is what I’m trying to communicate when I tell people about Green 4 God!” The main point to my mission is to make people understand their relationship with Creation and with the Creator. When those relationships are strong, we’re more committed to caring for the earth. That commitment makes us more invested in Creation and its health.

Think about it. If we don’t have a relationship with Creation (like the hired man), it’s much easier for us to turn a blind eye to its issues. On the flip side, when we do have a relationship with Creation (like the good shepherd), we not only see the issues, we look for ways to fix them.

This is good to remember in many aspects of our lives. When we have relationships with other people in our neighborhood, parish or community, we suddenly care what happens to them. We look out for their welfare. But, when we go in and out of our house without saying hello to the guy next door; when we sneak into Mass just before it begins and leave as soon as it’s over; when we don’t pay attention to local news and issues; we have no connection to the people around us and, therefore, very little concern about what happens to them.

I don’t know about you but I’d much rather look out for others and hope they’re looking out for me in return. So, as of today, I’m striving to be a Green Shepherd to Creation. Won’t you join me?

Blessings from one Green Shepherd to another,


Copyright 2013 Laura Nelson


About Author

Laura B. Nelson is a Catholic wife and mother of three children. She is also a Catholic blogger, author, speaker, teacher and life-long student of the Catholic faith. Laura likes to be busy but she most enjoys spending time with her husband and three children at their home in Grapevine, TX. Visit her blogs at Green for God and Suburban Sainthood.


  1. Great article, Laura. Our Sunday Visitor has a book called “The Environment” with talks in it by Pope Benedict XVI. Patriarch Bartholomew (of the Eastern Orthodox Church) also has several books about ecology, environment, nature, etc. He’s been dubbed the Green Patriarch!

  2. Thanks Stuart! Glad you liked the article. Pope Emeritus Benedict has indeed been an outspoken advocate for the environment. I think Pope Francis will probably continue his lead. In fact, with his emphasis on simple living, he’s already doing that!

    Many blessings,

  3. I’m an English teacher, so I re-read books all.the.time in the course of my professional life. Like you, I’ve found that I really *do* notice new things on every reading. I love how you point out the value of doing that with Scripture, too — we think we know these stories so well, but there are always new connections waiting to be made. Thanks for a lovely post.

    • I’m glad you liked it, Ginny! The hardest part about reading a familiar piece is not taking it for granted and skimming past the details. That’s even truer with Scripture.


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