THE ABSENT CARPENTER

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire.  He told his employer of his plans to leave the house-building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family.  He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire.  They could get by.

The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor.  The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work.  He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials.  It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.

When the carpenter finished his work the employer came to inspect the house.  He handed the front-door key to the carpenter.  “This is your house,” he said, “my gift to you.”   The carpenter was shocked!  What a shame!  If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.

Source | Belief Net

PONDER AND CONSIDER

So it is with each one of us.  We build our lives, one day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then with shock we realize we have to live in the house we have built. You are the carpenter.  Every single day you hammer a nail, place a board, erect a wall, fit a carpet.

As a wise person once suggested, “Life is a do-it-yourself project.”  Your attitudes and the choices you make today, build the “house” you live in tomorrow.

 

 

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PRICKLY PORCUPINE

It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold. 
The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm. 
This way they covered and protected themselves, but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions.

After awhile, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen.   So, they had to make a choice: accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth.

Wisely, they decided to get back together and work it out.  
They learned to live with the little wounds caused by their close relationship in order to stay warm and survive.

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Is it possible that the best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but the one where individuals learn to live with the imperfections of others?

 

THE TREASURE IS WITHIN YOU

A beggar had been sitting by the side of the road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. “Spare some change?” mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap.

“I have nothing to give you,” said the stranger. Then he asked: “What’s that you are sitting on?” “Nothing,” replied the beggar. “Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.” “Ever looked inside?” asked the stranger.

“No,” said the beggar. “What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.” “Have a look inside,” insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.

Source: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • Those who have not found their true wealth, which is the radiant joy of Being and the deep, unshakable peace that comes with it, are beggars, even if they have great material wealth. They are looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security, or love, while they have a treasure within that not only includes all those thing but is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.
  • When was the last time you had a long, loving look deep within yourself?
  • When was the last time you engaged in some serious inner work?


THE SONGBIRD

There was once a successful businessman who had everything – a beautiful wife, adorable children and a big house in which they all lived happily. The pride of his life though was his exotic songbird which he kept in a cage and fed delicious titbits when it entertained his guests.

One day the man had to go on a journey far to the south and he asked his wife and children what presents they would like from abroad – they asked for fine silks, honeycomb and clockwork toys. Finally he asked his songbird if he would like him to bring anything back.

“I wish only for one small favour.” The songbird replied.

“Anything!” his master declared.

“Just this – when you see my cousins in the trees in the place you’re going to, please tell them about my conditions here.”

“Are you sure? I could bring you back a fine jewel-encrusted mirror or dried tropical fruit?”

“No, just this, thank you.” The songbird replied and the man went away feeling a little disconcerted but resolved to carry out his pet’s wishes.

The man made his trip safely and carried out his business to satisfaction and spent his remaining time there buying the presents his family had requested. Finally, he went to a park and saw some birds in the trees that bore a remarkable resemblance to his own songbird. He called up to one of them and told them about how his own bird lived in cage and sang for him.

But no sooner had he finished speaking than one of these exotic birds trembled on its perch and tumbled to the ground and ceased to move. The man held his head in grief and the incident quite spoiled his trip.

He returned home and greeted his wife and family who were delighted at their presents but he couldn’t share their pleasure as long as the forthcoming encounter with his songbird remained on his conscience. Finally he found the courage to go down to the garden.

“Well?” his songbird asked and, hesitantly, the man told him exactly what had happened. The song bird listened intently, then trembled on his perch and fell to the bottom of his cage, dead.

The man was now beside himself with grief and confusion. Weeping openly, he opened the door of the cage and carried out his beloved songbird in his hands. No sooner had he done so, however, the songbird returned to life and flew up to the branches of the nearest tree and let out a shrill of joy at finding its freedom.

The man scratched his head in wonder and eventually asked:

“Okay, you win. But tell me please, what was in the message that contained this trick?”

The songbird looked down at him with pity and said:

“My cousin in Africa showed me that it was my beauty that kept me in the cage. Were it not for the delight of my singing voice you would have lost interest long ago. I had to give up that life in order to become free.”

Source : The Essential Rumi. Renditions of Rumi by Coleman Barks

PONDER AND CONSIDER

The image of dying unto oneself is a common theme in many spiritual traditions. Of particular interest is the dying to world and the things and possessions that we hold precious in order to experience the authentic and radical freedom of living in grace.

In one sense this story is about the self-limitaion of vanity but at a deeper level there’s the notion that as long as we’re in love with ourselves we will always be in a cage of our own making.

TRUST GOD BUT TIE YOUR CAMEL

There was once a man who was on his way back home from market with his camel and, as he’d had a good day, he decided to stop at a mosque along the road and offer his thanks to God.

He left his camel outside and went in with his prayer mat and spent several hours offering thanks to Allah, praying and promising that he’d be a good Muslim in the future, help the poor and be an upstanding pillar of his community.

When he emerged it was already dark and lo and behold – his camel was gone!
He immediately flew into a violent temper and shook his fist at the sky, yelling:

“You traitor, Allah! How could you do this to me? I put all my trust in you and then you go and stab me in the back like this!”

A passing sufi dervish heard the man yelling and chuckled to himself.

“Listen,” he said, “Trust God but, you know, tie up your camel.”

Source : The Essential Rumi. Renditions by  Coleman Barks

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ANOTHER VERSION

A young man went to a great master of wisdom and said to him, ‘Master, so great is my trust in God that I didn’t even hitch my camel out there. I left it to God’s providence, for God to take care of it.”

And the wise master said, ‘Go back outside and tie your camel to the post, you nincompoop! There’s no point in inconveniencing God with something that you can do yourself.’

Source: Walking on Water by Anthony de Mello 

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • If your leave the jar of honey open, by morning it may be full of ants!
  • Trust is always and necessarily a cooperative venture between your inner knowing or spirit, and the world in which you live. Trust is active, aware and alert. It is not blind and unknowing.

PLAYING HIDE AND SEEK

There’s a great Hasidic story about the teacher Rabbi Zolman. One day his six- or seven-year-old son came bursting into the house, just sobbing, crying his heart out. He said, “Daddy, we were playing hide and seek,” …he may have addressed him in Hebrew… “Abba, Daddy, I was hiding way out in the woods, and I waited out there, behind the trees for hours. I didn’t know that the kids had decided not to play anymore. They didn’t come and tell me, and I waited out there.”

That wise and wonderful rabbi took his little boy in his arms, and he rocked him and said, “Ah, my son, that’s the way it is with God. God plays hide and seek with us. God hides behind the trees, but we have quit playing the game.”

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • You may think that the question “how prayerful are you?” would be the right question to ask when it comes to growth and transformation.  But have you ever thought that perhaps an equally important question is, “how playful are you?”
  • We often talk about our desire to find God as if God is lost.  How about allowing ourselves to be found by God, to be called by name and embraced by the source that gives life?


THE SHREWD DONKEY

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out a way to get him out. Finally he decided it was probably impossible and the animal was old and the well was dry anyway, so it just wasn’t worth it to try and retrieve the donkey.  So the farmer asked his neighbours to come over and help him cover up the well. They all grabbed shovels and began to shovel dirt into the well.

At first, when the donkey realized what was happening he cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down and let out some happy brays. A few shovel loads later, the farmer looked down the well to see what was happening and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was shaking it off and taking a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he continued to shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, to everyone’s amazement, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off.

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • From time to time life is going to shovel dirt on you. The trick to getting out of the well is to gently shake it off and take one small step up.  Through the application of creative wisdom every adversity can be turned into a stepping stone.
  • If we face our problems and respond to them positively, and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity the adversities and crises that come along to bury us always have within them the potential to benefit and bless us.

Remember: what happens to you isn’t nearly as important as how you respond to it.

In another version of the same story there is a twist at the end:

The donkey later came back, and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him. The gash from the bite got infected, and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY
When you do something  wrong, and try to cover your ass, it always comes to bite you back!