By Becky Santoro, Watershed Children's Pastor

On Sunday I shared my stories of a childhood place I call my Green Pastures (named after Psalm 23). My Green Pastures was a place where I was so intricately connected to my soul and to God’s presence. I talked freely to Him and danced with Him in the wind. It was my magical place. My secret place. My safe place. Until one day…

I lost my child-like eyes.

If you weren’t in the audience, it may be helpful to stop reading and listen HERE for some context before your continue on. 

My hope is that, as a community, our lives can be an attempt to regain child-like eyes in a messy, broken world. To turn cul-de-sacs into places of worship and to physically be the Green Pastures in the injustice you see around you.

Some days are harder to see Green Pastures than others, but it’s the best place I have known where to be planted. Come with me. Spend your days catching glimpses of the softness of His spirit within your everyday moments and be reminded that God can meet you anywhere.

Even in the getting older. 

Even in the pain. 

Even in the anger. 

Even in the injustice.

Even in the mundane. 

Even in the transition. 

Even in the brokenness. 

Even in the deep grief.

These things can swallow you up and disillusion you, can’t they? They can make you turn everything into a cul-de-sac or they can ground you and root you into real living… where you notice the Green Pastures in the simple things around you and you find chances to be a part of creating the Green Pastures for others. It can make you rise up from the ashes and be a part of heaven on earth. The here and not yet.

What I’ve come to realize is when I stand on my broken Green Pastures filled with grief or when I embody Green Pastures for others, it allows me to carry someone’s grief-stricken heart inside my own.

When I don’t rush past the pain, I am able to be a guide because I’ve honored and walked on that Green Pastures before.

 I chose to sit down.

 That allows my heart to break all over again.

And I’ll do this again and again as many times as I can…as long as I have this breath.

This is real living.

Find your real and metaphorical Green Pastures. Embody it for others. And sit down in your broken ones. Grief is holy ground. Your Shepherd is safe.

Your stories will become the most sacred place and holy ground for others along the way if you bring them to the light. It is the fertile soil of a Green Pastures.

And above all, I hope you know deep in your soul…

You are not forgotten. 

 PS - What I didn’t know is that the exact DAY I sat down and wrote the first draft of my talk… my mom had written about my Green Pastures 25 years earlier in her journal. May 17th. She sent me pictures of the diary recently and I almost fell out of my chair. Reading her words now as a mom myself and after just putting pen to paper to these memories is beautiful and priceless to me.

May 17th, 1991

Dear Becky,

Last night you took me to the “Green Pastures”…this silly cul-de-sac in our neighborhood. At this time of your life, you are showing me that you share my intensity for life and for the Lord. A part of me wishes you won’t have to experience the intense pain that you will ultimately have to feel. But, I know that you’ll feel the joy in your life just as intensely and I believe that its God’s way of making it up to us. I pray you will always have such a fierce devotion for God… You talk to God about everything. Thank you for that.

So, I’m not surprised that you find “Green Pastures.” You need them as much as I do. A place of rest and peace- a time of reflection on God and His beauty, a “hiding place.” It’s so comforting there, you’ll bring others. Some of these others will love it as you do- most will fail to see its merit. It’ll break your heart that they’re missing out- that they can’t see the value. But, oh little one, allow no one to steal your vision! Hold onto your Green Pastures! Experience it to its fullest. Eat and lay down satisfied as the Psalms say. I’ll go with you. I understand. Thank God, there’s you. I love you, Mom.