Wolves and sheep don’t mix, right? But, when we’re talking symbolically, or using them to explain principles and talk about basic peace and goodness, they do.
I love the following very short story about what we feed ourselves. Even though it’s not about milk shakes and brownies or any of those delicious/not so good for you yummies.
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, My son – the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence [which basically means having compassion and a kind heart], empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.
The grandson thought for a minute or so and then asked his grandfather,
Which wolf wins?
The old Cherokee simply replied,
The one you feed
The one you feed. Isn’t that a two hour preaching session in few words?!
What are we feeding on, day in and day out? Stuff that brings us peace and joy? or stuff that drags us down with resentment, anger, or sorrow?
I’ve had to turn some corners, back away from people, change my disposition, swallow pride, and get rid of unneeded guilt in order to break free from the soured and decayed trash I sometimes fed myself. All the negatives and drama, as well as heart break, brought on by feeding the wrong wolf? It’s just not worth it, when all is said and done.
On the other hand, there’s been a lot of peace and sheer joy as I’ve catapulted in the direction of feeding the good. It’s one of the very reasons I created this website. It’s why I have the Goodness Matters group on Facebook. It’s why I write for online magazines and love speaking / creating music : to help feed the good wolf.
Abraham Lincoln is credited as saying,
Whatever you are, be a good one
Happy, loving, good things can be a part of EVERY person’s life. Just read up on Helen Keller or Anne Frank. You probably know someone in your neighborhood, at your work or school, or at church who is a stellar example of goodness – despite great difficulty. What makes the difference? Must be their diet, according to a wise old Cherokee grandfather. I tend to agree. Peace awaits with the good wolf.
Now, about sheep. Every good shepherd knows that you lead sheep, not push them along from behind. Shepherds lead with love and concern. Whether or not every sheep is top of the line, regardless of the ‘issues’ any sheep may have, the shepherd leads with love and compassion.
Here’s a beautiful [shortened] true story from Al Boyce, former reporter and writer for the Associated Press:
It’s Tuesday and people are literally coming out of the woods to converge on a local motel that usually caters to businessmen. It’s because two rooms have been opened so homeless men and women can take showers.
How this came about is an interesting story in itself.
The manager, a Muslim, was approached by a group of Christians who wanted to provide this service. The manager, having once been homeless himself, agreed to provide one free room every Tuesday. And towels for everyone.
The number coming to the showers grew, so the manager provided two rooms. Christian volunteers brought food and soft drinks. A local hairdresser offered free haircuts once a month. And so it continued to grow in offers of kindness and service.
When the manager was offered a promotion, he requested that his replacement continue the practice. Not only was that agreed to, but the chain determined to have their motels in other cities do the same.
There were plenty of rough days, with problems that sometimes involved the police. But the service continued. A good group of people worked together to, as a shepherd leads out, offer outreach to those in need. In these days where so many people are addicted to ‘reality’ TV, there is a reality here that makes the rest seem illusory at best – a reality that treads quite closely to Matthew 25:35-36:
For I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink. I was a stranger and you took me in, naked and you clothed me; sick and you visited me; in prison and you came unto me
And Jesus, like a whisper, is there every Tuesday. We see Him when a Hispanic man helps an injured friend into his walker. We see Him in the smiles and hugs of the volunteers. We see Him when hungry men make sure they leave enough food for those still waiting in line.
We remember the story of the birth of Jesus as told in Luke 2.
Every Tuesday, in this modern -day Bethlehem, there is room for Jesus. And the towels are on us.
Oh, it did my heart good to read this story! Good folks, following the example of the Good Shepherd, show how to lead out with concern to sheep of any fold. Diseased. Weary. Drug addicted. Recently released from prison. They feed goodness, lovingly and whole heartedly. They feed themselves too. Wolves and sheep. Goodness and peace…
And goodness matters.