THE ONE THING MISSING

An aspiring artist sculpted a beautiful angel and wanted the master artist, Michelangelo, to inspect it and offer his opinion. So Michelangelo was called in. The master artist carefully looked at the sculpture from every imaginable angle.

Finally, he said, “Well, it lacks only one thing.” Then he turned around and walked out.

The puzzled would-be artist didn’t understand, and he certainly didn’t know what it lacked. Too embarrassed to go and ask Michelangelo himself, he sent a friend to Michelangelo’s studio to try and find out what his statue lacked.

The great artist replied, “It lacks only life.”

Source | Unknown. This is the version as remembered, heard during a seminar.

CONSIDER THIS

Do you feel like a sculpture without breath? Is it possible that many so-called believers (myself included when ungrounded)  are sculptures without life, works of art without a soul?  Many people have all kinds of things and the latest gadgets, but lack life.

  • We may have a car or a motorbike or both, but do we have direction for living?
  • We may dwell in a nice, big home, but do we have enduring inner peace and contentment?
  • We may have money, lots of it, but do we have a real sense of security?
  • We may have clothes filling our closets to overflowing, but do we have an authentic self-worth to coat our spirit and soul?
  • We may have many friends, but are we really connected? Or are we suffering from an unbearable hollow sense of loneliness?
  • We may be meeting all of our goals, amassing accomplishments along the way, but are we calm and serene? Or is anxiety leaving us feeling undone?

Spend some time with these questions and then consider a final one:

  • Is there something still missing? Are we lacking the one thing necessary: Life?

 

BELIEVE IT

The seeker said to God: “Tell me, tell me something I can treasure and remember.”
And God said “I love you. I love you. I love you.”

The seeker replied: “Is that all? Tell me something else.”
And God said “Believe it!”

 Source | As heard during a retreat.

CONSIDER THIS

What would it mean for you if you were convinced that God loves you unconditionally?

GOD’S WATER

Christian, a Catholic monk, had a very close Muslim friend, Mohammed. The two of them used to pray together, even as they remained aware of their differences, as Muslim and Christian.  Aware too that certain schools of thought, both Muslim and Christian, warn against this type of prayer, fearing that the various faiths are not praying to the same God, the two of them didn’t call their sessions together prayer. Rather they imagined themselves as “digging a well together”.

One day Christian asked Mohammed: “When we get to the bottom of our well, what will we find? Muslim water or Christian water?”

Mohammed, half-amused but still deadly serious, replied: “Come on now, we’ve spent all this time walking together, and you’re still asking me this question. You know well that at the bottom of that well, what we’ll find is God’s water.”

Source | Christian de Chergé, L’invincible espérance
(Bayard 2010) 183-184

Quoted in Christian Salenson, Christian de Chergé: A Theology of Hope
(Cistercian Publications, 2012)) pages 49-50

CONSIDER THIS

God is always bigger than our wildest imaginings. God is beyond any definition and the moment we define God we shrink God. It has been said that God is the being whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.

WHY WEREN’T YOU ZUSIA?

Once, the great Hassidic leader, Zusia, came to his followers. His eyes were red with tears, and his face was pale with fear.

“Zusia, what’s the matter? You look frightened!”

“The other day, I had a vision. In it, I learned the question that the angels will one day ask me about my life.”

The followers were puzzled. “Zusia, you are pious. You are scholarly and humble. You have helped so many of us. What question about your life could be so terrifying that you would be frightened to answer it?”

Zusia turned his gaze to heaven. “I have learned that the angels will not ask me, ‘Why weren’t you a Moses, leading your people out of slavery?'”

His followers persisted. “So, what will they ask you?”

“And I have learned,” Zusia sighed, “that the angels will not ask me, ‘Why weren’t you a Joshua, leading your people into the promised land?'”

One of his followers approached Zusia and placed his hands on Zusia’s shoulders. Looking him in the eyes, the follower demanded, “But what will they ask you?”

“They will say to me, ‘Zusia, there was only one thing that no power of heaven or earth could have prevented you from becoming.’ They will say, ‘Zusia, why weren’t you Zusia?'”

Source | Doug Lipman, The Storytelling Coach: How to Listen, Praise, and Bring Out People’s Best. (August House, 2006)

CONSIDER THIS

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”Oscar Wilde

We live in a world that has a very strong opinion what we “should” be.  We ”should” be young, thin, beautiful, rich, successful.  We “should” have the right stuff — like the right kind of house and the right kind of car.  And we “should” act like those around us that look the right way and have the right stuff. Where in all of that is authenticity?

Sometimes, without realizing it, we give up ourselves.  We slowly fall prey to the bombardment of the pop culture messages that constantly surround us.

WHO IS THE REAL MENACE?

The Ministry of Agriculture decreed that sparrows were a menace to crops and should be exterminated.

When this was done, hoards of insects that the sparrows would have eaten descended on the harvest and began to ravage the crops, whereupon the Ministry of Agriculture came up with the idea of costly pesticides.

The pesticides made the food expensive. They also made it a hazard to health. Too late it was discovered that it was the sparrows who, through feeding on the crops, managed to keep the food wholesome and inexpensive.

Source | Anthony De Mello, Heart of the Enlightened
(Image; New edition edition,1997) page 148

CONSIDER THIS

Before rushing towards what you might think would be a better solution, consider what is already in place.

 

REMEMBERING THE GIFT OF WINGS

There was a bird who loved to fly. One day, while it was high up in the air it began to rain. Its feathers became so heavy that when it tried to land, it broke its wing. Time passed, and the bird became better. It wanted to fly, but no matter how hard it tried, something inside stopped it from leaving the ground.

Day after day it tried, and day after day fear held it down. Then one day, a strong wind came and lifted it high into the sky. It opened its wings and the bird remembered as if for the very first time, that it could fly.

Source | Based on a story told in the film “Shadows in the Sun”

CONSIDER THIS

When you think that something is impossible, stop, relax, unwind, step back and slow down a bit … stop long enough to remember.

 

WE’RE SO LUCKY

“Honey, would you drop the kids off at school this morning? I’ve got a lot of shopping to do and errands to run.”

“Well, dear, I’ve got a pretty hectic day myself (sigh) …  OK I’ll do it.  But hurry, up kids!”

So Dad and his children jump into the car and they’re off. The busy father glances at his watch. “Why is traffic so slow this morning? Certainly people should drive safely, not speed, but this little old man in front of us must be sight-seeing! I’ll pass him as soon as I can… take a short cut maybe … Oh, no!!”

Wouldn’t you know it! The car approaches a railroad crossing just as the lights begin to flash and the safety gate comes down. Dad’s first thought: “Darn it! We’re going to be held up by a train and be late.”

So, as Dad is fuming in the front seat, anxiously tapping his fingers on the steering wheel, reviewing, in his mind, how to make up some time … a sweet, childish voice calls out from the backseat: “Daddy, Daddy, we’re so lucky! We get to watch the train go by!”

Source | Based on a story told by Jerry Braza, Moment by Moment
(Tuttle Publishing,1997) page 3

 CONSIDER THIS

Daddy’s take: an inconvenience, a delay. Child’s take: the joy of a new experience. The frustration and the excitement of seeing the train pass by: every occasion could become an adversity if we don’t welcome it as an opportunity for growth and learning.

Awareness of the present moment is always a wonderful reminder to stop and enjoy what the journey has to offer along the way. Often the “now”, called by some “the sacrament of the present moment” or “the Sacrament of the blessed present”, is filled with many gifts if we have the eyes to see, the ears to really listen.