CHILDHOOD PERCEPTION

Young Maria, only four years old, returned home from Nursery School complaining, “Mummy, I’ve got a stomach ache.”

“That’s because your stomach is empty,” Sarah, her mother replied kindly. “You’ll feel better when you have something in it.”

She made Maria a small snack and sure enough, maria felt better immediately.

Later that afternoon the pastor, a family friend, dropped by to see Sarah. While he was chatting with Maria’s mum, he mentioned he’d had a bad headache all day long.

Maria perked up straightaway and announced to the pastor, “That’s because it’s empty, father. You’d feel better if you had something in it!”

PONDER

Is it possible that we all see and hear things through our own unique lens?

CALVES AND COMMON SENSE

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the famous nineteenth-century poet and essayist, was out one day trying to get a calf into the barn.

But he made the common mistake of thinking only of what he wanted: Emerson pushed and his son pulled … But the calf stiffened his legs and stubbornly refused to leave the pasture.

The Irish housemaid saw their predicament. She couldn’t write essays and books; but on this occasion at least, she had more horse sense, or calf sense, than Emerson. She put her maternal finger in the calf’s mouth, and let the calf suck her finger as she gently led him into the barn.

Source : Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People 

PONDER

Never allow your stubborn attitude to cloud your judgement, especially when considering what is the right thing to do next!

PACO, ALL IS FORGIVEN

No one could really say why he ran away. Or perhaps he didn’t, but was kicked out of his home by his father for something foolish that he said or did. Either way, Paco found himself wandering the streets of Madrid, Spain with hopes of entering into a profession that would most likely get him killed – bullfighting. Those who train under a mentor have a good chance of surviving this profession, but Paco’s memory of his mistakes and guilt over what happened blindly drove him to this one way street to suicide.

But that was the last thing his father wanted, which is why he tried something desperate which he desperately hoped would work. There was little to no chance that he would be able to find Paco by wandering the streets of Madrid , so instead he put an advertisement in the local newspaper El Liberal. The advertisement read,

“Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday. All is forgiven! Love, Papa.”

Paco is such a common name in Spain that when the father went to the Hotel Montana the next day at noon there were 800 young men named Paco waiting for their fathers…and waiting for the forgiveness they never thought was possible!

From the short story The Capital of the World by Ernest Hemingway
in The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

PONDER

  • Imagine your name is Paco too. Would you muster enough courage and show up at the Hotel Montana?
  • What strikes you about this story? How have you offered forgiveness to others? How has forgiveness been offered to you?
  • What does this story say about humanity’s desire for forgiveness?
  • How is forgiveness understood in this story? Is it an act of grace—or something else?
  • Do you think Paco’s father had forgotten about Paco’s misdeeds? Does it even matter?

SAME WATER. WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

A young missionary priest was assigned to work in Central America. Upon arrival, and after settling in, the leader of the community picked up the young priest and took him to meet the people. At that time, as was the custom, everyone was having a bath in the river men, women and children, all stark naked. No malice!

When the priest saw this, he was shocked and very upset!  He called  the leader and he commanded him to let the people know that  it was not proper for men, women and children to bathe naked together in the same river. “From now on”, the priest said, “bathing will happen separately.”

One of the man, sensing the upset,  got out of the river, ran towards the priest and said, “Father, what’s wrong with you! What’s the difference, if we take a bath separately or together, it is the same water!”
PONDER
  • When we project our fears and our unease onto others aren’t we judging them?
  • Can it be that wrongdoing and rightdoing exist only in our heads?
  • Can it be that our unreflective intrusions and the enforcement of our way of thinking wound and disturb the innocence of the others whom we are trying to teach and help?

RED STRING IDENTITY

A young man went to the public baths.  He undressed.  With everybody unclothed everybody looked pretty much alike.  Confused, he thought, “now when it is time to go home how will I know which one is me?”  So he found a piece of red string and tied it round his right toe.  Now he had a distinctive identity to who he was.

The problem was that as he continued bathing and showering the string fell off, and what was interesting is that another bather stepped on it and the red string adhered to his toe. And so when it came time to go home and took a look at his foot there was nothing there!

Then he noticed the red string on another bather a few feet away.  He approached him and said “pardon me sir.  I know who you are but can you tell me who I am?”

Source unknown

PONDER

  • A true identity is meaningless if it is given to us by someone else.
  • Who or what is defining you?

STONE SOUP

Once upon a time a monk wandered into a poverty stricken village and asked for shelter for the night. “There’s nothing to eat here,” the villagers told him, “you’d better move on!”

“I have enough here to make soup for all of us,”  the holy monk replied, “if I could just borrow a large pot.” Curious, the villagers produced a pot and stood around watching as the monk filled it with water and built a small fire underneath. He then took three round stones from a small bag he carried on his shoulder  and dropped them into the water.

As the water came to the boil the monk sniffed it hungrily saying, “I do love stone soup, but if I just had a little cabbage it would taste even better!” At this, one of the villagers disappeared returning a few minutes later with a cabbage he has been hiding and put it into the pot.

A while later the monk tasted the soup and said “Hmm, this is good, but a couple of carrots would make better still.” Again a villager produced a bunch of carrots and so it went on as potatoes, onions, mushrooms and a bit of salt beef were all added to the pot until there was indeed a delicious meal for all.

For more information on this story go to Stone Soup

PONDER

There are many versions of this old story, but the message is the same. We all have a contribution to make and by sharing our gifts and resources our own lives are enriched.

  • What are your gifts and your talents?
  • What is your contribution that can make a difference?

ELBOW AGILITY

Giovanna, a delightful Italian grandmother is giving directions to her grown grandson, Antonio, who is coming to visit with his wife, Maria.

“You come to the front door of the apartment. I’m in apartment 301. There is a big panel at the front door. With your elbow, push button 301. I will buzz you in. Come inside, the elevator is on the right. Get in, and with your elbow, push 3. When you get out, I’m on the left. With your elbow, hit my doorbell.”

“Grandma, that sounds easy, but, why am I hitting all these buttons with my elbow?”

“What … are you coming empty handed?”

PONDER

  • Are you blessed with elbow agility? Or put in slightly different words: where do you stand when it comes to gift giving?
  • What is that little thing that you can bring along to enhance the feast of life wherever you go?