A couple of weeks ago, I walked past a shepherd leading a huge flock of sheep. He was the only other person I'd seen for miles, walking through beautiful mountains, and the closest thing to signs of "civilization" for as far as I could see were the gravel path we were walking on, and ancient stone caves built into the hills where hermits used to live. (And don't think I didn't consider just moving into one of those caves and never coming home. Until I realized that they probably didn't have wireless.)
Anyway, it occurred to me that although I've heard a lifetime's worth of shepherd/sheep metaphors, I've never actually seen a shepherd with sheep. (And most likely, neither have any of the people who have preached at length about these sheep metaphors. These, for the record, are the same people who really want to get into the Greek root words without ever having studied Greek.)
Then that afternoon, I met two women from Oklahoma who explained to me in Sue-the-missionary accents that they had just finished a Bible study that went through the 23rd Psalm from a shepherd's perspective (their emphasis), and so seeing the sheep in the mountains moved them almost to tears, now that they understood how much a shepherd cares for his sheep and the lengths he will go to for them.
This was all getting a little too "framed poem from Cameron's" for me, which might explain why I nearly fell out of my chair laughing when my new friends Fred and Silka told me last night about how they'd seen the same shepherd beating one of his sheep with a stick.