Shepherd (The Secret Shack, 2016) offers prose and poetry for the faithful in this Christian collection.
In this work, compiled from writing produced over the course of many years, Shepherd delivers thoughts and advice on everything from rejecting racism to overcoming procrastination. The title refers to the author’s habit of holding on to leftover food in her refrigerator, causing friends to joke about the mold or “penicillin” she must be trying to grow. Through her experiences and contemplations, the author has grown medicine of a different kind: short essays, anecdotes, and poems to serve as prescriptions for times of doubt, stress, loneliness, and discouragement. In “Weeding as Prayer Song” (recommended as a cure “for Elimination”), she muses on the way the simple gardening task connects her to nature and God. In “P.A.P.” (“for Aging”), she uses verse to work through her fears of illness: “What is this new disease called P.A.P. / Which comes uninvited to you and to me?” In “September 11, 2002” (“for Strength”), she shares the grief and confusion she still feels a year after the terrorist attacks. Most pieces end with a brief prayer to God or a note about how the work came to be written. Shepherd’s prose ranges from clipped and weighty to buoyant and friendly, though it always demonstrates a value for precision: “Sometimes a hairdresser/stylist is the most special person you can know. Petite and attractive, almost sixty (which you’d never believe), Diane always welcomes me with a smile.” Her poetic style varies from formal to free verse, the latter of which succeeds more often than the former. While Shepherd’s language is sometimes too abstract to make a full impact, she generally communicates her devotion by effectively writing about people and objects in her own life. Though God is present throughout the text, the author rarely becomes dogmatic or overtly theological, presenting instead a spirituality that manifests in those small personal moments everyone should learn to better recognize and cherish. Readers should find shots of inspiration in this earnest work.
A humble blend of prose and poetry with a Christian message.