Something happened a couple weeks back that made a deep impression on me. I was walking a very familiar route I take around my neighborhood. I rounded a curve where I habitually speed up to get past a home where a dog barks loudly at me from a patio hidden by bushes. The barking is invariably followed by a gravelly woman's voice telling the dog to stop barking. This would be enough to make me want to hurry up, but the additional irritant of cigarette smoke wafting out to me adds to my scurrying. Sometimes I avoid that route altogether, but I like other things about it and on the day in question had elected to go that way. Here's what happened on that day and here's why I titled this post "A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing". As I was hurrying by, I heard a voice call my name and turned to see a woman I know sitting in the patio. She was obviously there chatting with the gravelly voiced woman. Turning to say hello to my acquaintance, I heard the dog's owner say "Let him come out and see you so he'll get to know you and not bark next time". A few seconds later, "Bandit" emerged from behind the bushes.
Bandit was a most surprising, and welcomed, sight. Such a soft presence, he approached me gently and silently. He had the nicest, softest coat and I was sure he was a puppy (although I later learned he's 15 years old). He was the kind of dog you can't resist petting and seemed to have the sweetest disposition. I was stunned!
I accepted an invitation to join the two women on the patio, and there behind the bushes was the gravelly voiced lady, smiling and warm, and not at all like I had imagined. Hidden in the bushes was a birdbath surrounded by a skillful arrangement of beautiful plants. I felt I had entered a lovely little retreat. I stayed and chatted a bit, then continued my walk knowing my little neighborhood world would never feel the same.
The memory of this event has come back to me so often. I've wanted to blog about it and on my walk today pondered how it might relate to meditation. What occurred to me is that in meditation we have the opportunity to discover the sheep in wolf's clothing as ourselves. Do you ever feel like the "big bad wolf" when you are stressed? I do! And when I do I know I need to meditate. Meditation can bring out our inner sheep even in the most wolfish of times.