Last weekend, I was making pancakes and heard a noise coming from my driveway. I peeked out the window and saw a stunned baby bird. He wasn't moving. At all. He seemed to be stuck to the center of our driveway. I watched as a mama bird and a papa bird took turns caring for him. One would watch the baby while the other flew to get a worm. The baby would flap its wings and gratefully eat the worm, but it was not moving. I knew he'd fallen out of the mockingbird nest in our tree. My heart broke for this little guy. I quickly sent up prayers to Saint Francis of Assisi and finished making pancakes. My daughters had friends sleeping over, and I didn't want to make a big deal of this or else I'd have a lot of tears to contend with. Still, I watched as the parents continued to protect and feed their stunned little Mockingbird baby.
We finished our pancakes, and I sent the kids upstairs to play. I cleaned up the kitchen -- all the while keeping an eye on the little bird. This went on for over an hour. Finally, I smiled in relief as I watched the bird hop to a bush right underneath the tree where his home was. Thank God, I thought. He will soon fly and be just fine.
I got dressed and took the kids outside to play. Our 6 year old neighbor was already outside. "Hi Miss Samantha!" He called out. "Want to see what your cat did do a baby bird?"
My heart almost stopped. I walked over to my little neighbor and looked in horror as he showed me the dead baby bird. My cat was purring on our front steps looking as content as, well, a chesire cat.
Even though I was terribly sad for that little bird and for his parents who were still shrieking and flying back and forth, in my heart I held no judgement or bitterness toward my cat. I love that big guy. He's tough as nails but inside he has a huge heart. He has three best friends -- all of them are black cats. I call them the Black Cat Club. They hang out in my yard, and when it's raining, in my garage. Every day. It's the neatest thing. I've never known cats to have friends. This cat of ours has always let my girls dress him up, push him in a stroller and carry him around room to room wrapped in a baby blanket. I love my cat.
And suddenly I had an epiphany. What if this is how God feels about us? What if He sees beneath our failings and sins to the good heart that lies buried beneath? What if when someone commits a murder, God grieves with us for the victim but still loves the murderer because He knows the true heart of the killer? Is this possible? Is that a glimmer of what unconditional love is?
The Course in Miracles taught me the importance of seeing God in everyone. This message is also the theme of one of my favorite books Return From Tomorrow by George Ritchie. I try to see God in everyone, but sometimes it's so hard. That case out of Cleveland, Ohio where that man kept those three girls imprisoned for over a decade -- how am I to see God in him? And yet, here's what the Course in Miracles says about that: "Sin has no place in Heaven. And therein lies your need to see your brother sinless. In him IS Heaven. See sin in him instead, and Heaven is lost to you. But see him as he is, and what is yours shines from him to you." It goes on to say, "Vision or judgement is your choice, but never both of these."
We have to choose. And so I choose to see the good in my cat while recognizing the good in that brave baby bird as well. So maybe I can try to see the good in what I would judge to be evil people. Everyone has dark and light in them. Most of us, thankfully, choose to focus on our light. But for those who focus on the dark and commit dark deeds, wouldn't it help if we found their spark of light inside of them and shined it right back at them? If we choose, as the Course in Miracles suggests, to see the vision of potential in all people rather than judgement for who they are now, wouldn't that change the world? I'm not saying these people shouldn't be punished -- far from it. I'm saying that we need to focus not so much on what they did but on how we react to it. We are only capable of two emotions -- love and fear. If we keep acting out of fear, how will the world be shaped by love?