One day, the disciples overheard some angry debate behind the closed doors of a church in Cwmcarn, Wales. Afterwards, they came to the Master and asked, ‘Teacher, are not love and unity of God’s people the highest good?’
There was pain on the Master’s face when he replied, ‘A certain shepherd had an unruly flock. He came to the sheep and asked what it was all about. Some said, ‘We are birds, but this other group says we are sheep. We may look like sheep, at least for the time being, but our identity is decidedly avian. They are very unkind to us, insisting that we are sheep when we want to be called birds.’
‘The shepherd said to the sheep, ‘Let us continue to talk, to hear from each other, and to listen. We shall find love and unity in our flock once again through dialogue, and that is the highest good.’ So the sheep bleated out their concerns and pain one after the other, and the shepherd made sure that everyone had a chance to share with all the others. He stated how pleased he was that everyone was heard, and the sheep commended him for being such a good facilitator.
‘The next day, the shepherd was leading the sheep on a mountain pass and came to a steep cliff. ‘Ha!’ said the group identifying as birds, and they tweeted to each other. ‘We shall show you that we are birds!’ Thereupon they leapt off the cliff. The remaining sheep shivered in horror as they watched the other sheep plummet to their deaths.’
‘Now,’ said the Teacher, ‘what shall we make of this facilitating shepherd who placed unity and love higher than the truth?’ The disciples thought and thought. Finally, Peter said, ‘Why didn’t the birds flap their wings?’