A few weeks ago, I noticed a goose swimming behind three ducks in the lake at Hermann Park. Everywhere the ducks swam, the goose followed. This intrigued me so I took a quick photo of the happy little foursome. Now, every time I walk by that corner of the lake, I see the same three ducks followed by the same goose. True, I can’t be sure it’s the same four birds because they aren’t wearing name tags, but I find it very sweet that a goose has been accepted into this little duck group. They don’t seem to mind that they look very different from each other. Some humans might learn a lesson from those waterfowl.
Many people are more concerned with what makes us different than what we have in common. I learned a valuable lesson about this many years ago while visiting a friend on Long Island. My friend was an Interfaith Minister, and when two Mormon missionaries showed up at her door a few days before my arrival, she invited them to come back at the end of the week for lunch. She felt compassion for these teenage boys who were far from home and most likely missing home-cooked meals. Knowing our diverse spiritual backgrounds, my friend thought the four of us would have an interesting conversation. She was right!
When they first arrived, we exchanged pleasantries and then they jumped right into the Book of Mormon to share their beliefs. At the time, I had only been studying A Course in Miracles for about a year and a half so I was quite eager to bring out my big blue book and share my beliefs with them. As you can imagine, the conversation became awkward and uncomfortable very quickly. Luckily, lunch was ready soon.
We adjourned to the dining room and sat around the table for a nice bowl of chicken soup. Before we ate, my friend spoke a beautiful blessing over our food and our time together. Her loving invocation shifted something. We started talking about the things we had in common, where our beliefs intersected, and how tasty the chicken soup was! The tension from the previous conversation dissipated, and the four of us enjoyed a wonderful lunch. I will never forget that powerful lesson. When we try to convince someone that our beliefs are correct, things will inevitably get tense. But when we share from the heart instead of the head, love connects us all.
It is often said that it’s best to avoid talking about religion and politics with those who have different opinions. However, if we want to be more like those ducks, perhaps we should be discussing them more often, but with an open heart and an open mind. We might discover that we have more in common than just webbed feet. We also might agree to disagree, but at least there is an opening for understanding when we listen to another point of view.
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Until next time, may you swim in harmony with all of your brothers and sisters in the lake.
Peace is the state where love abides, and seeks to share itself. Conflict and peace are opposites. Where one abides the other cannot be; where either goes the other disappears.
A Course in Miracles ~ T-23.I.12.5