THE PRICELESS TREASURE

A group of tourists sits in a bus that is passing through gorgeously beautiful country; lakes and mountains and green fields and rivers. But the shades of the bus are pulled down. They do not have the slightest idea of what lies beyond the windows of the bus. And all the time of their journey is spent in squabbling over who will have the seat of honor in the bus, who will be applauded, who will be well considered. And so they remain till the journey’s end.

Source: Anthony De Mello, The Way to Love: Meditations for Life
(Random House Canada, 2011) page 3

CONSIDER THIS

“What will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?”
Matthew 16:26

“We are perishing for lack of wonder, not for lack of wonders.”G.K. Chesterton

TOUCHING THE WATER

A troubled widower made his way to ask a wise old woman about his troubles.  The old woman received him and they walked along a stream.  She could see the pain in his face.  He began to tremble as he asked, “What’s the point? Is there any meaning to life?” She invited him to sit on a large stone near the stream.  She took a long branch and swirled it in the water, then replied, “It all depends on what it means to you to be alive.” In his sorrow, the man dropped his shoulders and the old woman gave him the branch.  “Go on,” she said, “touch the branch to the water.”

As he poked the branch in the running stream, there was something comforting about feeling the water in his hand through the branch.  She touched his hand and said, “You see, that you can feel the water without putting your hand in the water, this is what meaning feels like.” The troubled man seemed puzzled.  She said, “Close your eyes and feel your wife now gone.  That you can feel her in your heart without being able to touch her, this is how meaning saves us.”

The widower began to cry.  The old woman put her arm around him, “No one knows how to live or how to die.  We only know how to love and how to lose, and how to pick up branches of meaning along the way.”

Source: Mark NepoThe One Life We’re Given
Finding the Wisdom That Waits in Your Heart

(Atria Books, 2017) page 87

CONSIDER THIS

A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a loved one or friend, describe a time when you experienced a branch of meaning.

 

IT’S ALWAYS THE BEGINNING

Anthony, a middle-aged monk, was on pilgrimage, visiting Benedict his good friend, a monk in another country. Arriving at the monastery, Benedict, a gracious host and friend, welcomed Anthony, and as they started climbing a long flight of steps, said, “We have no elevators here. I apologize for the many steps we have to climb to get to your room.”

Anthony, with a smile and a twinkle in his eye, answered, “There are many steps in my home monastery, too.”  Then he added, “I count them as I climb…. This is how I count them: one, one, one…!”

Source: Based on a story told by Donagh O’Shea in goodnews.ie

CONSIDER THIS

In the spiritual life, it is always the beginning.

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?

DISTRACTED BY A FOUR-LEGGED STOOL

 

Master: Most courageous lion tamers use two tools to control and ‘tame’ the fierce companions prowling around the cage: a whip and a stool, or a chair. Which of the two is the most valuable to the tamer?

Student: Surely the whip.

Master: No. The one most important tool is the stool, and more specifically, the four legs of the stool!

Student: That’s odd! Why so?

Master:  A lion can easily overpower, maul and kill a person. However, it’s only easy for the lion to do so if it can focus on the singular object of the person. The lion tamer uses the stool as a method of distraction. The lion, when faced with the legs of the stool, tries to focus on all four at once. Confused, and unable to focus, it stands there, frozen!  The lion tamer remains relatively safe behind the stool.

Source: Based on a story found in
David Feldman
How Does Aspirin Find a Headache?
(New York: HarperCollins, 1993.) pages 9-11

CONSIDER THIS

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Whether you know it or not, you’re already in the circus ring of life. Most of the time, we sit quietly, maybe confused, gazing at the wooden stool dangled in front of us, silently debating about which leg is the most important.

“You will never get to the end of the journey if you stop to shy a stone at every dog that barks.” —Winston Churchill, Speech, 3 December 1923

“The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time.” —Richard Cecil

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” —Source Unknown

THE GOD WHO HIDES

The grandson of Rabbi Baruch, Yehiel, burst into tears in his room.

“Yehiel, Yehiel, why these tears? Why are you crying?”

“My friend cheated, it’s not just grandpa, it’s not fair for a friend to cheat!”

“But what did your friend do?”

“We were playing hide-and-seek. I hid so well that he could not find me; so he stopped playing, he did not look for me anymore. Do you understand, grandpa? I hid and he did not look for me. It’s not fair!”

Rabbi Baroukh, upset, began to caress the boy’s head, and tears flowed from his eyes:

“God, too, Yehiel,”he murmured, “God is sad too. God hides, and human beings do not seek Him. Do you understand, little Yehiel? God hides and humans do not even bother to look for Him. “

Source: Translated from Elie Wiesel
Contre la mélancolie
,  Célébration hassidique
(Paris : Seuil, 2014)

CONSIDER THIS

Guaranteed ways to miss the hidden God

  1. Live your life at high speed. No exceptions. Run hard.
  2. Stay scattered and distracted. The more clutter and activity, the better.
  3. Take everything personally. Never evaluate. Agree.
  4. Use blame liberally. It’s so invigorating. I wasn’t responsible, you were. Everything’s your fault.
  5. Don’t laugh, especially at yourself.
  6. Stay tied to your past. Elevate it to greatness. Live remembering and longing. Or missing. Why do it halfway? Go for it.
  7. Use the word ‘because.’ ‘I can’t change, because.’ Because is so little appreciated as a solvent for responsibility. Try using because. This will work.
  8. Never question or think for yourself. Just keep moving and accepting. (Refer to #1 and #3.)
  9. Continue to think of God as invisible and distant. Surely not present in this room. At this moment. Not while I’m reading a book.
  10. Reinforce the belief that your life is going to happen soon. This is not it, not yet. But one day. Maybe when I finish reading.

Paula D’Arcy, Sacred Threshold: Crossing the Inner Barrier to a Deeper Love

 

DO YOU LOVE ME?

Rabbi Avi Weiss’s father was the Askenazi Rabbi of Natanya in Israel. And at that time, Rabbi Weiss was the only one of their children living in New York. So, when his parents would come to visit him from Israel it was quite an honour.

Before one visit to the States, his dad calls and says, “Look Avi, we’ve changed our plans and instead of coming in on Thursday, we’re coming Wednesday morning. Can you please pick us up from the airport?”

Rabbi Weiss replies, “Abba, [father] you know how much I love you, you know how much I love Mommy…I was able to pick you up on Thursday but I can’t make it Wednesday morning.”

His dad calls him his childhood name, “Avrumi! You know your mother is not well, you know it is hard for us to schlep all our stuff and hail a cab. Please Avrumi, pick us up!”

“But Abba, I’m sorry, I can’t make it. I’ll send someone.”

“Avrumi, you’re now a hotshot rabbi in Brooklyn New York and you don’t have time to pick your parents up at the airport?”

“Abba, you know how much I love you, but…”

“Avrumi, do me a favour. Don’t love me so much and just pick us up at the airport!”

Source:  As told by renowned Orthodox Rabbi Avi Weiss
at a meeting of the San Francisco Board of Rabbis

CONSIDER THIS

“Love ought to manifest itself more by deeds than by words”
Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, #230.

What is your understanding of love?

Remember Fiddler on the Roof? One early scene illustrates one Jewish understanding of love. Tevye asks his wife Golde the very modern question: “Do you love me?”At first she tells him that he’s a fool or maybe sick and he needs to lay down. But Tevye presses her, “Do you love me?” and she responds,  “For twenty-five years, I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house,  given you children, milked the cow. After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?”

Well, what do you think? Did Golde love Tevye?