The other day we heard a baby lamb bleating, not unusual for a lamb to call for its mother to nurse. When the lamb’s crying went on for another day or two, Dee said, “We need to check on that lamb.” I went into the pasture and found that none of the females in the flock were nursing it. It had wandered in from another pasture. We called the shepherd, who told us that we did well to save it; it could have survived for maybe one more day without milk. She took the lamb home and fed it until it regained health and became strong and more independent.
A Course in Miracles tell us that every human act is either an expression of love or a call for love. When someone acts mean, nasty, or unkind, he or she is wounded, a disguised lamb calling for sustenance. “Hurt people hurt people.” The Course suggests that while we may be tempted to return an unkind act with counterattack, we do better to reframe the rude action and feed the person with love. Easier said than done. Yet the principle remains true.
The nastier a person acts, the more pain they are in. This does not condone wrong behavior, but it does open the door for compassion. If someone came to you with a gaping physical wound, you would disregard their foul language and take them to emergency services. Many people are more emotionally wounded than physically. They need help more than judgment. Again, easier said than done. We take turns being the person calling for love, and the one giving it. When we see an emotionally distraught person as a wounded child, we see more options for response than seeing them as a bully. Likewise, when we feel wounded, we do well to not judge ourselves, but to feed our soul.
I once went to a children’s zoo where a fellow at the snack bar was making a huge ruckus over not getting his order right. I decided he was just a nasty man, and avoided him. A few minutes later I saw a fellow gently stroking and feeding a little deer. I thought, “That man reminds me of St. Francis.” When he turned his head I was astonished to see that it was the same man who caused a disturbance at the snack bar! That one human being embodied both the capacity to act as a devil or an angel.
As we approach Halloween, we have a chance to deal with various spooks and goblins who knock at the door and request a treat. When you see a kid in a devil’s outfit, try to remember that the devil is just an outfit. There is someone inside calling for love.
When we reframe aberrant behavior as a hunger in the soul, we maximize our power to heal it. When we shift our vision, we shift our results.