PUSH THAT COW DOWN THE CLIFF

A long time ago, a Monk set out on his travels accompanied by his assistant, a Brother. Night was falling when the Monk told the Brother to go on ahead to find lodging. The Brother searched the deserted landscape until he found a humble shack, in the middle of nowhere. A poor family lived in the hovel. The mother, father and children were dressed in rags. The Brother asked if he and the Monk could spend the night in their dwelling. “You are most welcome to spend the night,” said the father of the family. They prepared a simple meal consisting of fresh milk, cheese and cream for the Brother and the Monk. The Brother felt moved by their poverty and even more by their simple generosity.

When they finished eating, the Monk asked them how they managed to survive in such a poor place, so far away from the nearest neighbors and town. The wife looked to her husband to answer. In a resigned tone of voice he told them how they managed to survive. ‘We have one cow. We sell her milk to our neighbors who do not live too far away. We hold back enough for our needs and to make some cheese and cream-that is what we eat.”

The next morning, the Brother and the Monk said their good-byes and set out to continue their journey. After the Monk and the Brother had walked a few miles, the Monk turned to the Brother and said, “Go back and push the cow off the cliff!” “Father,” the Brother replied, “they live off the cow. Without her, they will have nothing.” The Monk repeated his order “go back and kill the cow.”

With a heavy heart, the Brother returned to the hovel. He worried about the future of the family because he knew they depended on the cow to survive. His vow of obedience bound him to follow the orders of the wise Monk. He pushed the cow off the cliff.

Years later, the young Brother became a Monk. One day he found himself on the same road where he found lodging so many years ago. Driven by a sense of remorse he decided to visit the family. He rounded the curve in the road and to his surprise, he saw a splendid mansion, surrounded by landscaped gardens, in the place where the hovel used to be. The new house exuded a sense of prosperity and happiness. The Monk knocked on the door.

A well-dressed man answered. The Monk asked, “what ever became of the family who used to live here? Did they sell the property to you?” The man looked surprised and said he and his family had always lived on the property. The Monk told him how he had stayed in a hovel on the same spot, with his master the old Monk. ‘What happened to the family that lived here?” he asked.

The man invited the Monk to stay with him as his guest. While they ate, the host explained how the family’s fortune changed. “You know Father, we used to have a cow. She kept us alive. We didn’t own anything else. One day she fell down the cliff and died. To survive, we had to start doing other things, develop skills we did not even know we had. We were forced to come up with new ways of doing things. It was the best thing that ever happened to us! We are now much better off than before.”

Source and author: Unknown

CONSIDER THIS

‘If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got’ – Henry Ford

  • Do you have a cow you need to push off the cliff? What is its name?
  • What are some of the things and habits you have been relying on for a very long time, things and behaviours that are perhaps holding you back?
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Author: philipchircop

I'm a Jesuit from Malta, an artist at heart and madly in love with all things beautiful and soulful: music, painting, sculpture, photography, film, theatre, poetry, good company, good food, good wine and more. I believe that beauty is a wonderful entry into the mystery of the God “whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” God can be sensed in all things if and when we engage in a long, loving look at the real that surrounds us. I consider myself a seeker with bottomless curiosity, an eternal student of life, exploring fresh and creative ways to proclaim the Good News in the hope of helping fellow pilgrims and seekers to embrace real and radical changes that will lead to conversion and transformation.

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