ON REMEMBERING AND REMINDING

Three elderly friends,  while playing bridge, were also discussing the travails of getting older.

One said, “Sometimes I catch myself with a jar of mayonnaise in my hand in front of the refrigerator and can’t remember whether I need to put it away, or start making a sandwich.”

Another agreed, saying he often paused, befuddled, on the stairway landing, unsure of whether he was going up or down.

The third, a recent widower, played a card as he responded,  “Well, I’m glad I don’t have that problem; knock on wood,” as he rapped his knuckles on the table, then told them “Oh, that must be the door, I’ll get it!”

Source: Unknown

CONSIDER THIS

“Well, we all forget things. That’s what reminding is for.” (Words spoken by the controlling Martin Burney character played by Patrick Bergen in the 1991 drama/thriller Sleeping with the Enemy.)

  • What do you need to forget?
  • What do you need to remember?
  • What would you like to be reminded of?

THE TEACHER’S HAND

When Mrs. Klein told her first graders to draw a picture of something for which they were thankful, she thought how little these children, who lived in a deteriorating neighbourhood, actually had to be thankful for. She knew that most of the class would draw pictures of turkeys or of bountifully laden Thanksgiving tables. That was what they believed was expected of them.

What took Mrs. Klein aback was Douglas’s picture. Douglas was so forlorn and likely to be found close in her shadow as they went outside for recess. Douglas’s drawing was simply this:

A hand, obviously, but whose hand? The class was captivated by his image. “I think it must be the hand of God that brings us food,” said one student.

“A farmer,” said another, “because they grow the turkeys.” 

“It looks more like a policeman, and they protect us.” “I think,” said Lavinia, who was always so serious, “that it is supposed to be all the hands that help us, but Douglas could only draw one of them.”

Mrs. Klein had almost forgotten Douglas in her pleasure at finding the class so responsive. When she had the others at work on another project, she bent over his desk and asked whose hand it was.

Douglas mumbled, “It’s yours, Teacher.”

Then Mrs. Klein recalled that she had taken Douglas by the hand from time to time; she often did that with the children. But that it should have meant so much to Douglas  …

Source: Reader’s Digest

CONSIDER THIS

Today consider the silent language of hands: “Hands calm us, feed us, and scratch our backs. They intimidate, bless, encourage, and stop us. They soothe and caress. They draw our attention to the good and the bad, often suggesting exuberance or fear.” – Charles Flowers in the introduction to Elliott Erwitt’s Handbook

Today give thanks for the gift of hands in your life, your own and those of others who companioned and are still companioning you on the path of life: helping hands, affirming hands, encouraging hands, healing hands, open hands.

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”

SaveSave

REMEMBER RULE NUMBER 6

Two Prime ministers were sitting in a room discussing affairs of state.  Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and baning his fist on the desk.  The resident prime minister admonishes him: “Peter,” he says, “kindly remember Rule Number 6,” whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws.

The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying.  Again the intruder is greeted with the words: “Marie, please remember Rule Number 6.”  Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology.

When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague:  “My dear friend, I’ve seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this.  Would you be willing to share with me the secret of this Rule Number 6?” 

“Very simple,” replies the resident prime minister.  “Rule Number 6 is ‘Don’t take yourself so damn seriously.’”

“Ah,” says his visitor, “that is a fine rule.”

After a moment of pondering, he inquires, “And what, may I ask, are the other rules?”

“There aren’t any.”

Source: Benjamin Zander & Rosamund Stone Zander,
The Art of Possibility
(Penguin Books; revised edition, 2002) page 79

CONSIDER THIS

As we encounter stress and anxiety, fear and worry, let’s call to mind rule #6! When it shows up, pay attention to the negative, deconstructive inner dialogue and intentionally stop it in its tracks. Remember:

  • “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”  -Oscar Wilde
  • “Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.” -G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy“The Eternal Revolution”)

LOVING WHOLEHEARTEDLY

An eager young man longing to live a good life, went to his rabbi and said, “I know that the Hebrew Scriptures say that we ought to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, all our strength. But I am very much aware that my heart and soul and mind and strength have bad parts in them. So, tell me, how can I love God?”

After a pause the rabbi replied, “Well, it seems that you’re going to have to learn how to love God with the bad parts too.”

Source: Unknown

CONSIDER THIS

“The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest, but wholeheartedness.” David Steindl-Rast in response to a question by poet David Whyte.

“In fiction good people do good things and bad people do bad: that’s why it is called fiction!” (Oscar Wilde) In real life bad people can do good things and good people can do bad things.

SHEPHERD OR BUTCHER

A pastor was taking pilgrims on a tour of the Holy Land. He had just read them the parable of the good shepherd and was explaining to them that, as they continued their tour, they would see shepherds on the hillsides just as in Jesus’ day. He wanted to impress the group, so he told them what every good pastor tells his people about shepherds.

He described how, in the Holy Land, shepherds always lead their sheep, always walking in front to face dangers, always protecting the sheep by going ahead of them. He barely got the last word out when, sure enough, they rounded a corner and saw a man and his sheep on the hillside.

There was only one problem: the man wasn’t leading the sheep as the good pastor had said. No, he was behind the sheep and seemed to be chasing them, throwing stones at them, and whacking them with a stick.

The pastor turned red. Flabbergasted, he ran over to the fence and said, “I always thought shepherds in this region led their sheep — out in front. And I told my people that a good shepherd never chases his sheep.” The man replied, “That’s absolutely true… you’re absolutely right … but I’m not the shepherd, I’m the butcher!”

Source | Based on Lynn Anderson,
They Smell Like Sheep: Spiritual Leadership for the 21st Century
(Howard Books, 2002) pages 29-30

CONSIDER THIS

On some levels we are all leaders in life. Some lead with a title and many lead without a title. Whatever the case may be, ask: when it comes to leadership, what is my basic attitude? Is it that of the shepherd who leads lovingly or that of the butcher who chases, drives and forces?

Is my leadership such that it leads to violence, “butchering” potential and possibility along the way, or is it of the non-violent type, always seeking the good of the other, encouraging and affirming?

LISTENING TO BOTH SIDES

The disciple asked the master: “What should a decent and respectful human being do to understand the real-world situation? What makes a human being out-of-touch with reality?”

After a few moments of quiet stillness the master answered: “Always listen wholeheartedly to both sides and you will be enlightened; listen to only one side and you will be left in the dark.”

Source | Unknown.
This rendition is as adapted and retold by Philip Chircop sj.

CONSIDER THIS

I am told that the Chinese symbol for “listening” is made of two main characters, one depicting the ears and the other depicting the heart. To really listen one must not only use both ears but also the heart!  To really listen one be fully present, wholeheartedly, offering undivided attention to the other.

What do you hear when you listen to the one you love or to the one you consider to be your enemy? Are you engaged in active listening?