IS MY DAD IN HEAVEN?

It was Emanuele’s turn to ask Pope Francis a question. When he got to the microphone, he froze and cried. “I can’t do it,” he said. Even a papal assistant couldn’t get him to loosen his tongue.

“Come, come to me, Emanuele,” the pope said. “Come and whisper your question in my ear.”

The aide helped the boy up to the platform where the pope was. Emanuele was sobbing, and Pope Francis enveloped him in a big embrace.

With their heads touching, the pope and the boy spoke privately to each other before Emanuele returned to his seat.

“If only we could all cry like Emanuele when we have an ache in our hearts like he has,” the pope told the children. “He was crying for his father and had the courage to do it in front of us because in his heart there is love for his father.”

With Emanuele’s permission, Pope Francis went on to share the boy’s question: “A little while ago my father died. He was a non-believer, but he had me and my brothers baptized. He was a good man. Is my dad in heaven?’’

“How beautiful to hear a son say of his father, ‘He was good,’” the pope told the children. “And what a beautiful witness of a son who inherited the strength of his father, who had the courage to cry in front of all of us. If that man was able to make his children like that, then it’s true, he was a good man. He was a good man.”

“God is the one who says who goes to heaven,” the Pope explained.

“What do you think? God has a dad’s heart. And with a dad who was not a believer, but who baptized his children and gave them that bravura, do you think God would be able to leave him far from himself?”

“Does God abandon his children?” the pope asked.

The children and all present shouted, “No.”

“There, Emanuele, that is the answer,” the pope told the boy. “God surely is proud of your father.”

Then Pope Francis encouraged Emanuele saying, “talk to your dad; pray to your dad.”

Source: Based on Cindy Wooden’s report
in Catholic News Service

CONSIDER THIS

What is heaven for you? How would you describe or define it?

Consider this short verse from Rumi:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make any sense.

Rumi as rendered by Coleman Barks in “The Essential Rumi”

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REFLECTIONS

Once upon a time, a Russian peasant went to visit Moscow, the big city. He arrived at its fanciest hotel. His boots were covered with mud, his clothing was torn, and his appearance was dishevelled. Despite all this, the clerk at the hotel smiled at him. He gave the peasant a key to his room, the highest and most elegant room in the hotel. The peasant began walking up the hotel’s beautiful winding staircase.

When he arrived at the first floor, he walked right in front of a full-length mirror. He had never seen a mirror before, and he was terrified because it contained a beastly image staring back at him. He growled and shouted at the beast but found it did the same right back to him. He screamed and ran up the next set of stairs. On the second floor, he ran into the beast again. He screamed, and the beast screamed back at him. Once again he ran up the stairs, to the third floor. The beast stared right back at him. They exchanged insults and stood toe to toe.

Realizing he could not escape, the peasant ran back down to the lobby. He went back to the clerk at the desk. He told the clerk about the beast stalking him. The clerk quickly realized the man was seeing his own reflection in the mirror. Rather than embarrass or shame him, the clerk told the peasant that the strange-looking man was there to protect the hotel’s guests.

“Here’s the trick,” the clerk says. “If you make an angry face at him, he will do the same to you. But if you greet him with a smile and kind words, he will do the same to you.” The peasant thanked the clerk and went up to his room. He had no more terrifying stops.

Source: Evan Moffic
The Happiness Prayer: Ancient Jewish Wisdom for the Best Way to Live Today
Center Street, 2017

CONSIDER THIS

The clerk could have responded differently. He could have taken advantage of the peasant’s vulnerability and ignorance. He could have laughed at him. He could have called him names. He could have scolded him or showed him the way out. But for this clerk, another person’s humanity was more important than a smug sense of superiority. Another person’s need gave the clerk an opportunity for kindness.

Remember: Life is like an echo. Whatever energies you send out, they will be echoed back to you. What you give away is what you will receive.  Or as scripture says:

  • “The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” —2 Corinthians 9:6
  • “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.” —Galatians 6:7

 

 

JEREMY’S EGG

Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12, he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises.

At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a ray of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher.

One day she called his parents and asked them to come for a consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs to a ‘special’ school.

“It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems.”

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke.

“Miss Miller,” he said, “There is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here.”

Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the lawn outside the window. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness.

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her.

“Here I am complaining, when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family,” she thought.

“Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy.”

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares.

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter.

Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg.

“Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Miss Miller,” the children responded enthusiastically, all except for Jeremy. Had he understood what she had said? The next morning, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that’s new life, too.”

Then, Doris opened the third egg. She gasped. The egg was empty. She quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?”

Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy, your egg is empty.” He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too.” Time stopped.

When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?”

“Oh, yes,” Jeremy said, “Jesus was buried there but the Father raised Him up.” The recess bell rang.

Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket –all of them empty.

Source:  Ida Mae Kempel
in Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubery & Nancy Autio Jack Canfield
A Taste of Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul
(Health Communications, Inc 2005)

There’s also Jeremy’s Egg, a 2000 film based on Ida Mae Kempel’s story

CONSIDER THIS

Before we get to Easter, we need to linger:
in the vulnerability of the basin and the towel
at the remembrance and promise of the table
in the struggle and betrayal of the garden
in the shadows and shouts of injustice
at the bloody brutal beautiful cross
in the silence of linen and spices and death
For without these, the empty tomb is empty

We Need to Linger by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

THE SAUCER AND THE CATS

A famous art collector is walking through a small town when he notices a cat lapping milk from a saucer in the doorway of a store. He does a double take, recognizing that the saucer is extremely old and very valuable. Thinking quickly he walks casually into the store and offers to buy the cat for two dollars.

Fred the store owner replies, “I’m sorry, but the cat isn’t for sale.”

“Please,” the collector says, “I need a hungry cat around the house to catch mice. I’ll pay you twenty dollars for that cat.”

“Sold!” the store owner says, and hands over the cat.

The collector continues, “Hey, for the twenty bucks I wonder if you could throw in that old saucer. The cat’s used to it and it’ll save me from having to get a dish.”

“Sorry friend,” the store owner says, “but that’s my lucky saucer. So far this week I’ve sold 68 cats!”

Source: Slightly adapted from aish.com

CONSIDER THIS

A cat and a saucer are two different things. So are success and happiness: two different realities.

If we gently practice happiness, we will be happy. There’s no guarantee that we will be successful as well. Similarly, if we towards success, we will be successful but again, not necessarily happy.

If we desire to be both happy and successful we have to invest in both.

Remember: If you want both the cat and the saucer you need to pay for both!

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THIS TOO SHALL PASS

Once upon a time there was Freddie, a wise leader who in spite of his great wisdom often struggled with emotional highs and lows. Freddie was prone to periods of great elation where he would make very poor decisions, and periods of great despair where he would get extremely upset.

One of his associates, Mara was her name, designed and forged a simple ring for Freddie to wear at all times. In her mind this was an ingenious device that would help stop him from getting lost in his high and low moments.

Freddie asked, “How does it work?”

“Wear the ring with you always. In times when you need it most, it will show you the answer and you will know what to do,” replied the Mari.

Almost immediately, another associate showed up saying that the company they both worked for had just lost a lot of money. Everything seemed dark and hopeless, just when at the end of the day, after many phone calls, the tired Freddie looked at his new gift, the ring.  Engraved on the ring was an illuminated message – four simple words which he had not seen before: “This too shall pass.”

All of the sudden, Freddie found new hope, courage and a burst of renewed energy. He went home and surrendered to a good night sleep.

The day after, an unexpected phone call  led to a couple of meetings and the eventual signing of a new contract that not only brought back the money lost but much more.  Elated, Freddie called all his partners and associates, employees and clients and threw a massive celebration for many days. Just when he was losing himself in the midst of the great celebration, Freddie touched the ring and felt the engraving – the four simple words which he had noticed just a few days earlier: “This too shall pass.”

He decided from then on to engage in a daily ritual of intentionally touching gently the ring, feeling the inscription, early in the morning, upon awakening, and at the end of each just before going to sleep.  He carried the four words “this too shall pass” like a mantra, repeating them under his breath, in good times and in bad times, in sickness and in health, in winning and in losing, in light and in darkness: “this too shall pass.”

Source: Unknown
Here I retell the story  based upon variations.

CONSIDER THIS

“If the only thing people learned was not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world.” Syd Banks

COMPLICATED FEELINGS

The confident music student said to the master, “that’s an easy song. It’s not complicated at all. I can play it. It’s all feeling.”

The master, with a smile and a twinkle in her eyes, said, “that may be true, but sometimes feelings are complicated.”

Philip Chircop
Based on a conversation I overheard recently

CONSIDER THIS

We all need to find healthy ways to express our feelings. A good teacher of mine used to say “what is not expressed is always depressed.”

  • How easy it is for you to express what you feel?
  • What gets in the way of expressing your true feelings, no matter how complicated?

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” -Gospel of Thomas #70

MAN, BOY AND DONKEY

A man and his son were once going with their donkey to market. As they were walking along by his side a countryman passed them and said, “You fools, what is a donkey for but to ride upon?” So the man put the boy on the donkey, and they went on their way.

But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said, “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

So the man ordered his boy to get off and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other, “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”

Well, the man didn’t know what to do, but at last, he took his boy up before him on the donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at.

The men said, “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours – you and your hulking son?”

The man and boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, until at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them until they came to a bridge, when the donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle, the donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together, he was drowned.

Source: Joseph Jacobs, The Fables of Aesop
(London: Macmillan and Company, 1902), no. 63, pp. 149-51

CONSIDER THIS

Try to please everyone, and you will please no one.

“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness.”

“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” – From “Self-Reliance” in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s first series of essays

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