Playing Chicken


Before Unity Village was a school, or a retreat center, or a publishing company, or any of the other wonderful things that it’s evolved into, it was a farm. In the early days, there were apple and peach orchards, a dairy, and everything else. And there were chickens. Chickens with rose-colored glasses.

Maybe you’ve heard the story. It’s an old one; one that’s been re-told many times through the years. The story is true, but it has also become part of our mythos, the culture and heritage that defines us as Unity people. Our stories tell us where we have been and where we’re going — they tell us who we are.

Chickens. If you’ve ever been around them (and I don’t necessarily recommend it), you know that they’re not the Leo Buscaglias of the animal kingdom. If a chicken sees a sore, or a wound, or any kind of red spot on another chicken, it will peck and attack that wounded bird in a display of brutality that might be more at home in a Quentin Tarantino movie. This is a problem if your job, as a chicken farmer, is to keep your chickens safe. It’s a profound issue if, like the Fillmores and other folks living and working at Unity Farm, you’re a staunch vegetarian.

Some wonderful soul at Unity Farm decided to take wire and red glass and make tiny spectacles for the chickens. The idea was that seeing each other through the red lenses would keep the chickens from being able to distinguish any wound. Evidently it worked.

I love this story. It’s Unity, through and through. First of all, Unity people carry their beliefs into action. Of course they were vegetarians. Of course they came up with a way to keep the chickens from hurting each other. More than that, there’s a Truth lesson there. We change our experience by changing what we see. What lenses do you have on right now?

We can go deeper. The chickens weren’t blindfolded. The answer is never found in hiding. Quite the opposite. Seeing the world through rose-colored glasses let the chickens see everything as healing process rather than finished product. And there’s the difference.

Every moment of existence is just that: a moment. Everything in the manifest is in a beautiful process of flux and transition. We don’t look to the outer to find permanence; it can’t be done. Our job is not to hide the spots where we are growing and healing. Our opportunity is to know, and show, that every part of our experience is a temporal manifestation of the timeless. Let’s be brave enough to let our growing places show, so that we can grow together.

As we journey through this life experience together, we'll surely see that our friends and loved ones are growing, too.  Let's not be fooled by appearances.  Let's not define others by their limitations, but by their victory.  That's what love does.