IT’S THE STUFF INSIDE

A little girl walking down the street with her mother, stopped at a balloon vendor’s stand. He was selling helium-filled balloons.  The child was intrigued as she watched the balloon man occasionally let go of some strings releasing a few balloons  into the azure sky— blue balloons, red, green, white, black, and yellow balloons!

Marvelling that helium-filled black balloons floated as easily as red and green ones when  the vendor let go of their strings, the curious child said, “Excuse me sir, how come when you let go of the balloons—green balloons, white balloons, red balloons, even black balloons—they always float up into the sky?”

The man replied, “Love, it’s not the colour of the balloon that matters. It’s the stuff inside.”

Source: As told by South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
no stranger to being discriminated against

CONSIDER THIS

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

THE SWEETER APPLE

A lovely little girl was holding two apples with both hands.

Her mum came in and softly asked her little daughter with a smile: my sweetie, could you give your mum one of your two apples? The girl looked up at her mum for some seconds, then she suddenly took a quick bite on one apple, and then quickly on the other.

The mum felt the smile on her face freeze. She tried hard not to reveal her disappointment. Then the little girl handed one of her bitten apples to her mum, and said: mummy, here you are. This is the sweeter one.

Source: Munira Dhamani, The Thank You Bell  
(Educreation Publishing; 1 edition, 2015)  page 24

CONSIDER THIS

No matter who we are, how experienced we are, and how knowledgeable we think we are, it is always wise to delay judgment, not to quickly jump to conclusions, to give others the benefit of the doubt, and the opportunity to explain themselves.

LOOKING FOR THE MISSING RING

Mulla had lost his ring in the living room. He searched for it for a while, but since he could not find it, he went out into the yard and began to look there. His wife, who saw what he was doing, asked: “Mulla, you lost your ring in the room, why are you looking for it in the yard?”

Mulla stroked his beard and said: “The room is too dark and I can’t see very well. I came out to the courtyard to look for my ring because there is much more light out here.”

Source:  Classic Tales of Mulla Nasreddin
Retold by Houman Farzad
Translated from Persian by Diane L. Wilcox.
(Mazda Publishers, Costa Mesa, California, 1989) page 26

 

CONSIDER THIS

Like Mulla Nasreddin, many are constantly looking for the key to happiness, the key to bliss, the key to freedom, the key to inner peace and tranquility, the key to love, and the key to God in the wrong place: in the place where we think there’s most light!

What if the one and only right place to find the key to life is the deep, dark cave of our innermost being: our heart?

LION AND LAMB TOGETHER

One fine Sunday, Berel decided to go to the local zoo with his wife and kids.

As he neared the lion’s cage, he was astonished to see a lamb lying peacefully with a lion beside her.

“That’s wonderful,” he cried. “Finally, the prophecy from the Good Book is realized!”

Berel ran to the zookeeper. “My congratulations! You have finally made everyone see that peace is at hand.  But tell me,” he implored the zookeeper, “how do you make a lion lie down with the lamb?”

“It’s no problem,” replied the zookeeper. “Every morning, I simply put another lamb in the lion’s cage!”

Source: Slightly adapted from Gedalia Peterseil,
Tell It from the Torah
(Pitspopany Press, 1998) page 143

CONSIDER THIS

Here’s God’s dream for humanity according to the Good Book:

The wolf will romp with the lamb,
the leopard sleep with the kid.
Calf and lion will eat from the same trough,
and a little child will tend them.

Cow and bear will graze the same pasture,
their calves and cubs grow up together,
and the lion eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens,
the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent.
Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill
on my holy mountain.
The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive,
a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide. – Isaiah 11:6-9

Normally the lamb is lunch for the lion and the goat is a snack for the leopard.  Animals that don’t normally get on – eat together and rest side by side in peace.  And what is more “a child will lead them”,  the prophet Isaiah says.  Animals that we would hardly describe as suitable pets for a child – wolves, leopards, lions and snakes are play mates for a little child. There is no fear and no anxiety.  The helpless and the innocent live in safety and have no dread of the big and the powerful.

Is this just a perfect picture of a perfect world?  Is this just a dream, a surrealistic vision? What do you think is possible in a world that is still wounded by so much division?

DRY LEAF AND MUD PIE

Dry Leaf and Mud Pie were very good friends. As they approached old age together, they decided to make a religious pilgrimage to Banaras, the Hindu holy city on the banks of the Ganges River. They believed that if they washed in that sacred river, all the sins of their lifetime would be erased. They understood the distance and the dangers of such a trip. They knew that heavy rains and strong winds were the two greatest hazards they would face.

So, they decided on a clever strategy. When the rains poured down, Dry Leaf would shield Mud Pie until the storm passed. When the heavy winds blew, Mud Pie would sit on Dry Leaf until the sandstorm was over. One bright, sunny morning, Dry Leaf and Mud Pie set out on the long, difficult pilgrimage to the holy city of Banaras. They traveled just a short distance when the sky grew dark and rain began to fall. Dry Leaf shielded Mud Pie until the rain stopped. Their strategy worked, and they laughed as they continued on their way.

As they got further down the road, the sky clouded again, but this time, the wind blew in with a terrible force. Mud Pie sat on Dry Leaf until the wind died down. Their strategy still worked, and as they traveled on, they started to sing. They had gotten almost to the holy city before the sky clouded over again.

Then something terrible happened. The rain poured down, and the wind blew — at the same time. Although the two friends tried their best to help each other, it was of no use. Dry Leaf blew away and was never seen again. And Mud Pie was washed away.

Source: Jim Sichko, Stories from the Journey
(Open Road Media, 2014) pages 99-100

CONSIDER THIS

There comes a time in life when no matter how much we are loved and helped by another, it’s not enough. Even the love and support of our best friends can’t help us. A time will come when a help from elsewhere, larger than the mere human, will be your only refuge.

WITH ARMS WIDE OPEN

The legend goes that the 19th-century Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) made a clay model for a statue of Christ the King, arms outstretched, raised high in gesturing command, his head held high in triumph.

He left the soft and moist clay figure to harden and and in the morning when he entered the studio to finish his work, he couldn’t believe what he saw. The weight of the soft clay was too much for the inner structure and instead of  a head held high, it had bent downwards, and the arms originally raised in triumph had sagged and fallen low.

Initially Thorvaldsen was deeply disappointed, even disturbed, but when he looked again he saw that the statue with open arms, now expressed something deeper than kingly triumph and victory; it expressed welcome and forgiveness.

Note: The original statue of the “Christus” can be seen at the Vor Frue Kirke (Our Lady’s Church), the National (Lutheran) Cathedral of Denmark

Source: Unknown. Retold as I remember hearing it.

CONSIDER THIS

How big is your circle of compassion? How wide is your embrace?

He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.

“Outwitted” in Edwin Markham, The Shoes of Happiness, and Other Poems (1913)

LAST WORDS

Alice Kahana, an artist living in Houston, has a painful and vivid memory of her journey to Auschwitz as a fifteen-year-old girl. On the way, she became separated from her parents and found herself in charge of her little eight-year-old brother. When the boxcar arrived, she looked down and saw that the boy was missing a shoe . “Why are you so stupid !” she shouted at him, the way older sisters are inclined to do so. “Can’t you keep track of your things?”

This is nothing out of the ordinary except that those were the last words that passed between them, for they were herded into different cars and she never saw him again.

Nearly half a century later, Alice Kahana is still living by a distinction that was conceived in that maelstrom. She vowed not to say anything that could not stand as the last thing she ever said.

Source: Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander,
The Art of Possibility
(New York: Penguin Books, 2000) page 174

CONSIDER THIS

  • Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.
  • Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.