One Shepherd, One Fold

Happy Father's Day weekend.
Today I'm excited because soon I'll be taking this beautiful print
to the frame shop so that it can hang in our home.
It was a gift from the painter's daughter,
whose children go to the school I recently retired from.

One Fold, One Shepherd by Larry Dyke
When she presented it to me with her daughter Grace,
she said it reminded her of the role of a school counselor
as a shepherd for their sheep.
She thanked me for my service to our fold, and added that
they also hoped that the Fall foliage her father had painted
would remind me of Wisconsin and comfort me
on days when I was feeling homesick.
Isn't that the most thoughtful, heartfelt present?

As I reflect on retiring, I'm working with intention
to focus on the goodto help the hurts heal more quickly.

Hurts like bidding my sheep farewell.
Like saying so long to my school family.
Like turning in my laptop and my keys.
Like my Principal's hard truth that people are replaceable 
and then meeting my young replacement at school yesterday.
Like closing that door and driving away for the last time.

And since appreciations have been known to melt resentments away, I've been fervently filling up my Proverbs journal this past week with the kind thoughts, feelings, affirmations and gratitude that stakeholders have shared with me.

It'll be a keepsake for my Smile File
that's sure to make my own children smile one day
as they remember who I was and what mattered to me.

As my days in FISD came to a close, 
I received this retirement plaque Tuesdayafternoon; 
isn't it engraved so elegantly?

It was handed to me thinly wrapped in cold styrofoam
at the district office when I went to turn in my TRS Form 7,
by a lady I didn't recognize,
with the words: Here's your plaque.
Wait, what?
As I sat alone, by myself, and pulled it from its wrapper,
I couldn't help but muse that I would have done this differently.
A whole lot differently.
I would have tried to make it something really special
to match the special years I spent here.

But I'm so grateful for a 25-year-long opportunity 
to grow alongside of and serve my sheep in FISD 
that I'm choosing not to let my plaque-receiving expectations
cloud the beauty of the gift it represents,
a quarter of a century of them trusting me to be the shepherd, 
to guide, nurture, and love their precious flock.

At the end of the day, what truly matters is that 
I was blessed to be the one 
to so many, for so long.
Now that's a present that will keep on giving.

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