As the months passed, Lester the rooster took on the role of Activity Coordinator at the sanctuary. He planned games and events for the pigs. Sometimes they had oinking contests. Of course Bobby always won, because he had the loudest oink of everyone. Sometimes they had contests to see who could find the most interesting insect. Gertie usually won that contest because she was smaller than the other pigs and could fit in tight places where bugs liked to hide.
As the cold winter months dragged on, the pigs got a little impatient with each other and sometimes bickered among themselves. “Stop hoarding all the straw!” “It’s my turn to sleep under the heat lamp!” “Get your cold snout off my back!”
With all the bickering, Lester decided to plan a new contest that would help the pigs be nicer to each other. Perched on the edge of the stall, he gathered all the pigs around and made his announcement.
"Gather 'round, herd!! You have one day to do a good deed for one of your herd-mates. You will present your good deed to the herd, and the pig with the most creative good deed will get a personal back scratch from me!”
The pigs loved back scratches, so they took the new challenge very seriously. They immediately started planning their good deeds, and by the next morning, the pigs were busy putting them into action. The pigs were very competitive, so naturally they tried to outdo each other. And of course, they had to make sure that everyone witnessed their acts of kindness.
The following day, Lester banged his beak on the metal water bowl to get everyone’s attention. Ding, ding, ding! Once the pigs were gathered around, he hopped up on his perch. “Now is the time we’ve been waiting for. Each of you will share your good deed with their rest of the herd, and then we’ll vote on a winner!”
One by one, the pigs told their stories of good deeds. Bobby yelled, “I cleared the ramp off for Miss Gertie so she wouldn’t slip and fall!” Pedro pushed his way up to the front, “Well I nudged out a spot in the straw for Petunia so she could sleep directly under the heat lamp!” And Stella blurted out, “Well, I gave Mandy a cool new stick to play with!”
With each story, the pigs oinked loudly and clapped their hooves in celebration.
Then it was Lucy’s turn to tell her story. She slowly bowed her head in shame because she didn’t have a good deed to share. Lester looked down at her from his perch and demanded an explanation. “Lucy, why didn’t you do a good deed for one of your herd-mates? The other pigs have all shared their acts of kindness, and we are so proud of them. Why didn’t you do your good deed?”
Still looking down at the ground, Lucy replied softly, “I tried to think of something, but I just couldn’t find anything to compare with your good deeds.” She looked around shamefully at the other pigs. “Even after you fell asleep and I tucked you in and prayed over you, I still couldn't think of anything. I’m so sorry I disappointed all of you.”
Suddenly, each pig looked at Lucy in surprise. With ears perked up, Stella asked, “Lucy, you tuck us in and pray for us at night after we go to sleep?”
Lucy replied, “Yes, every single night. I pray that God keeps you safe and healthy. I pray that you forget about your past lives when you were mistreated. I pray for peace in the herd. I pray that you will love each other with all your hearts.” Lucy seemed a little embarrassed at her admission.
The pigs bowed their heads, because they knew that Lucy deserved the reward. She performed her good deed from the kindness of her heart - without seeking recognition or a reward of any kind. She did it out of love.
And with that, Lester gave Lucy the best back scratch she had ever had. And the pigs took turns rubbing her feet and nibbling on her sweet ears while they secretly planned more good deeds for their herd-mates.