COOKIES

Toad baked some cookies. “These cookies smell very good,” said Toad. He ate one. “And they taste even better,” he said. Toad ran to Frog’s house. “Frog, Frog,” cried Toad, “taste these cookies that I have made.”

Frog ate one of the cookies. “These are the best cookies I have ever eaten!” said Frog.

Frog and Toad ate many cookies, one after another. “You know, Toad,” said Frog, with his mouth full, “I think we should stop eating. We will soon be sick.”

“You are right,” said Toad. “Let us eat one last cookie, and then we will stop.” Frog and Toad ate one last cookie. There were many cookies left in the bowl. “Frog,” said Toad, “let us eat one very last cookie, and then we will stop.” Frog and Toad ate one very last cookie. “We must stop eating!” cried Toad as he ate another.

“Yes,” said Frog, reaching for a cookie, “we need will power.”

“What is will power?” asked Toad.

“Will power is trying hard not to do something that you really want to do,” said Frog.

“You mean like trying not to eat all of these cookies?” asked Toad.

“Right,” said Frog. Frog put the cookies in a box. “There,” he said. “Now we will not eat any more cookies.” “But we can open the box,” said Toad. “That is true,” said Frog.

Frog tied some string around the box.

“There,” he said. “Now we won’t eat any more cookies.”

“But we can  open the box,” said Toad.

“That is true,” said Frog. Frog tied some string around the box.
There,” he said, “Now we will not eat any more cookies.”

“But we can cut the string and open the box,” said Toad.

“That is true,” said Frog. Frog got a ladder. He put the box up on a high shelf. “There,” said Frog. “Now we will not eat any more cookies.”

“But we can climb the ladder and take the box down from the shelf and cut the string and open the box,” said Toad.

“That is true,” said Frog. Frog climbed the ladder and took the box down from the shelf. He cut the string and opened the box. Frog took the box outside. He shouted in a large, loud voice, “HEY BIRDS, HERE ARE COOKIES!” Birds came from everywhere. They picked up all the cookies in their beaks and flew away.

“Now we have no more cookies to eat,” said Toad sadly. “Not even one.

“Yes,” said Frog, but we have lots and lots of will power.”

“You may keep it all, Frog,” said Toad. “I’m going home to bake a cake.”

Source:  “Cookies” by Arnold Lobel
in  Frog and Toad Together (HarperCollins, 1979) pages 30

CONSIDER THIS

There is willfulness and will power. And then there is willingness.  In Will and Spirit: A Contemplative Psychology, Gerald May writes about willingness and willfulness:

Willingness and willfulness do not apply to specific things or situations. They reflect instead the underlying attitude one has toward the wonder of life itself. Willingness notices this wonder and bows in some kind of reverence to it. Willfulness forgets it, ignores it, or at its worse, actively tries to destroy it. Thus willingness can sometimes seem very active and assertive, even aggressive. And willfulness can appear in the guise of passivity.

 

 

 

THE MAN WHO ORDERS THREE BEERS

A man walks into a bar and orders three beers. The bartender raises his eyebrows, but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.

An hour later, the man orders three more. This happens yet again. The next evening the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town is whispering about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.

Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town. “I don’t mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers.”

“It’s odd, isn’t it?” the man replies. “You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America, and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond.”

The bartender and the whole town was pleased with this answer, and soon the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride to the town, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.

Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening – he orders only two beers. Word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers.

The next day, the bartender says to the man, “Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know – the two beers and all…”

The man ponders this for a moment, then replies, “You’ll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well. It’s just that I, myself, have decided to quit drinking.”

Source: Unknown. Retold as remembered

CONSIDER THIS

“I gave up beer for lent and the whisky is killing me.”

In the Christian Tradition today marks the beginning of the season of lent, a privileged time to revision and perhaps reimagine your life.  It some ways, it is a season for dropping and embracing: dropping things and habits that are harmful and embracing and reaffirming choices that are life-giving.

What do you need to give up and what might you embrace for a healthier lifestyle?

 

THE LITTLE BOY WHO PUT THE WORLD BACK TOGETHER

 

There was a man who had a little boy that he loved very much. Everyday after work the man would come home and play with the little boy. He would always spend all of his extra time playing with the little boy.

One night, while the man was at work, he realized that he had extra work to do for the evening, and that he wouldn’t be able to play with his little boy. But, he wanted to be able to give the boy something to keep him busy.

So, looking around his office, he saw a magazine with a large map of the world on the cover. He got an idea. He removed the map, and then patiently tore it up into small pieces. Then he put all the pieces in his coat pocket.

When he got home, the little boy came running to him and was ready to play. The man explained that he had extra work to do and couldn’t play just now, but he led the little boy into the dining room, and taking out all the pieces of the map, he spread them on the table, together with some scotch-tape.

He explained that it was a map of the world, and that by the time he could put it back together, his extra work would be finished, and they could both play. Surely this would keep the child busy for hours, he thought.

About half an hour later the boy came to the man and said, “Okay, it’s finished. Can we play now?”

The man was surprised, saying, “That’s impossible. Let’s go see.”

And sure enough, there was the picture of the world, all put together, every piece in its place.

The man said, “That’s amazing! How did you do that?” The boy said, “It was simple. On the back of the page was a picture of a man. When I put the man together the whole world fell into place.”

Source: Meir Liraz, The 100 Top Inspirational Anecdotes and Stories
(Bizmove.com, 2010)

CONSIDER THIS

  • WHERE DO WE START? But where was I to start? The world is so vast, I shall start with the country I know best, my own. But my country is so very large. I had better start with my town. But my town too, is large. I had best start with my street. No: my home. No: my family. Never mind, I shall start with myself! – Elie Wiesel, Souls on Fire       

 

I LOVE YOU SO MUCH

At the end of a busy day, a man and his wife were sitting at home on the veranda in the quiet of twilight, broken only by the sounds of the gentle wind and the swash of the waves. They were enjoying a glass of wine together.

As the sun slowly sank below the mountains, she broke the soothing silence saying, “I love you so much I don’t know I could ever live without you.”

The husband, a tad surprised, asks, “Is that you or the wine talking?”

She replies, “It’s me … talking to the wine.”

And the two burst out laughing!

Source: Recycled and retold by Philip Chircop sj

CONSIDER THIS

Learning to laugh a little more just may save your life, not to mention your marriage. To paraphrase Henry Ward Beecher, “A marriage without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road.”

Still not convinced? Listen to these other voices:

  • Laughter is an “instant vacation”. | Bob Hope
  • You can’t stay mad at somebody who makes you laugh.” |  Jay Leno
  • We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh. | Agnes Repplier

WE DO CANCER

Richard was a widower; his wife had suffered a long and painful death from cancer.  Then he met Celia; they came to love each other and each other’s children dearly.

Less than a year into their courtship, Celia discovered a lump in her breast.  She had gone to the doctor alone and was alone when she received the devastating news: the lump was malignant.

Once the reality set it in, her first thought was for Richard and his children.  They had been profoundly wounded by cancer only a few years before.  They were still healing from it.  How could she bring this terrible thing into their lives again?

She called Richard immediately and, without telling him why, simply broke off their relationship.  For several weeks she refused his phone calls and returned his letters.  But Richard would not give up and begged her to see him.

Finally, Celia relented and arranged to meet him to say goodbye.  When they met, she could see the deep strain and hurt on his face.  Richard gently asked Celia why she had broken up with him.  Finally, on the verge of tears, she told Richard the truth: that she had found a lump in her breast, that it was malignant, that she had undergone surgery a few weeks before and would begin chemotherapy the following week.

“You and the children have lived through this once already,” she told him, “I won’t put you through it again.”

He looked at her, his jaw dropping.  “You have cancer?” he asked.  Dumbly, she nodded, the tears beginning to run down her cheeks.

“Oh, Celia,” he said – and began to laugh with relief.  “We can do cancer …  we know how to do cancer.  I thought that you didn’t love me.”

Oh, but she did.  And they got through it together, happily married.

Source: Rachel Naomi Remen
My Grandfather’s Blessings
(Riverhead Books, 2001) pages 203-204]

CONSIDER THIS

The Gospel of compassion and reconciliation is “fulfilled” every time we act selflessly. Whether we can “do cancer,” whether we know how to comfort and listen and console, whether we can make a soup kitchen or a tutoring program work … whatever gifts and graces we possess can work great and wondrous things when done in the Spirit of the God who came to set us free.

ARE YOU SETTLING FOR AVERAGE?

There’s was a longtime handyman named Sam who was once offered a full-time job by a mill owner who was having problems with muskrats at the mill’s dam. The owner asked Sam to rid the mill of the pests and even provided a rifle for him to do the job.

Sam was ecstatic because it was the first steady work with a regular paycheck that he’d ever gotten.

One day, several months later, a friend came to visit Sam. He found him sitting on a grassy bank, the gun across his knees.

“Hey, Sam. Whatcha doin’?” he asked.

“My job, guarding the dam.”

“From what?”

“Muskrats.”

His friend looked over at the dam, and just at that moment a muskrat appeared.

“There’s one!” the friend exclaimed. “Shoot him!”

Sam didn’t move. Meanwhile, the muskrat scurried away.

“Why the heck didn’t you shoot him?”

“Are you crazy?” replied Sam. “Do you think I want to lose my job?

Source:  John C. Maxwell,
The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth
(Center Street, 2012) pages 160-161

CONSIDER THIS

Never settle for average – It’s just as close to the bottom as it is to the top.  It’s better to cross a line and suffer the consequences than to just stare at the line for the rest of your life and never know.

THE GIFTS

The high school students were putting on a Christmas play which they themselves had written. In the afternoon before they play’s performance, the students suddenly realized that they had forgotten all about the three kings in the story. The director of the play hit upon the following solution: he would phone three people at random and ask them if they would stand in for the three kings. All they had to do was this: bring along some gift which was especially meaningful to them and then explain in their own words why they had chosen that gift.

The first of the three kings was a fifty-year-old father of five. He worked for the town council. He brought along a pair of crutches and explained: “Some years ago I was in a head-on collision on the highway. I spent many months in the hospital with broken bones. No one was sure that I would ever walk again. But I tried and tried and used these crutches for weeks. During that time my whole attitude changed: I became happy and grateful for every little daily success. I learned to take nothing for granted. I bring these crutches as a symbol of my personal thanks to God.”

The second of the three kings was really a queen, a mother of two children. She brought along a bundle of diapers and baby clothes. She explained, “I was very happy and successful as a graphic artist. Then I got married and the bottom fell out of my life. My husband did not want me to work anymore. All he wanted me to do was stay at home and take care of the house. Then along came the babies, and they needed me. But after they grew up, I was again lost…. until I began to put talents to work in creative art classes for children. I bring along this bundle of baby things to show that it was the little ones, the babies, who brought a new meaning into my life. I feel that by working and helping in their little world I am bettering the whole family of mankind.”

The third king was a young teenager. All he brought along was a blank piece of paper. He laid it before the Infant Jesus in the crib and explained: “I was not even sure whether I should come here or not… My hands are empty; I have nothing to give. In my heart I long for success and a meaning for my life. I am filled with doubts and questions and unrest. My future looks foggy and unclear to me. I lay this empty sheet of paper before you, Child in the crib, and ask you to bring me an answer to some of my problems. I feel empty on the inside, but my heart is open and receptive.” 

Source : As told by Willi Hoffsuemmer

CONSIDER THIS

Imagine yourself standing before the crib of Life. What are you ready and willing to offer if you were asked to stand in for one of the “three kings”?