RETHINKING

The manager of a large office noticed a new man one day and told him to come into his office. “What’s your name?” he asked the new guy.

“John,” the new guy answered.

The manager scowled, “Look, I don’t know what kind of place you worked before, but I don’t call anyone by their first name. It breeds familiarity and that leads to a breakdown in authority. I refer to my employees by their last name only – Smith, Jones, Baker – that’s all. I am to be referred to only as Mr. Robertson. Do you understand?”

As the new man nodded, the manager continued, “Now that we got that straight, what is your last name?”

The new guy sighed, “Darling. My name is John Darling.”

“OK, John, the next thing I want to tell you is…”

Source |  Charles Hunter,  Healing Through Humor
(Creation House, 2003) ) page 156.

CONSIDER THIS

We make rules, and yet we also make exceptions to the rules.
Is it possible that rules only apply when they’re acceptable to us?

THE KING AND THE BEGGAR

As I went begging today from door to door they cried, “He is coming! He draws near!” And seeing the dust of your gorgeous chariot, I thought, “Who can this be but a king among kings?”

My hopes soared, and I stood waiting for alms to be given and wealth scattered in the dust. Your chariot stopped right before me, you looked down with a smile, and I knew that the luck of my days had come. Until suddenly you held out your palm and said, “What will you give?”

Begging from a beggar! What a kingly jest – I was confused and dismayed, but I groped in my sack until I brought out one grain of wheat, the tiniest thing I could afford.

I got home that night and emptied my sack on the floor, only to spy a grain of gold gleaming there in the heap. Then how bitterly I wept. If you did this for a tiny grain of wheat, what would you return if I had given you everything?

Source | Deepak ChopraThe Soul in Love: Classic Poems of Ecstasy and Exaltation
(Harmony, 2001) pages 102-103

CONSIDER THIS

How often are you the beggar in the story, reaching in for one kernel of corn, holding back, and giving much less than your all?

 

 

LEARNING TO BE SILENT

The pupils of the Tendai school used to study meditation before Zen entered Japan. Four of them who were intimate friends promised one another to observe seven days of silence.

On the first day all were silent. Their meditation had begun auspiciously, but when night came and the oil lamps were growing dim one of the pupils could not help exclaiming to a servant: “Fix those lamps.”

The second student was surprised to hear the first one talk. “We are not supposed to say a word,” he remarked.

“You two are stupid. Why did you talk?” asked the third.

“I am the only one who has not talked,” concluded the fourth.

Source | Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki, Zen Bones, Zen Flesh
(Tuttle Publishing, 1998) pages 83-84

CONSIDER THIS

To observe silence in a healthy and life-giving way one has to leave ego, pride and competition behind.

THE OTHER SIDE

A drunk crossed the street and accosted a pedestrian, asking him, “I shay, which ish the other shide of the shtreet?”

The pedestrian, somewhat nonplussed, replied, “That side, of course!”

The drunk said, “Shtrange. When I wash on that shide, they shaid it wash thish shide.”

Source | Desmond Tutu, God is Not a Christian: And Other Provocation
(Harper One, 2011) page 5.

CONSIDER THIS

Where the other side of the street is depends on where we are. Our perspective differs with our context, the things that have helped to form us. Change your point of view, shift your standpoint and the whole picture changes!

A DOLL OF SALT

A doll of salt, after a long pilgrimage on dry land, came to the sea and discovered something she had never seen and could not possibly understand.  She stood on the firm ground, a solid little doll of salt, and saw there was another ground that was mobile, insecure, noisy, strange and unknown.  She asked the sea, “But what are you?” and it said, “I am the sea.”  And the doll said, “What is the sea?” to which the answer was, “It is me.”  Then the doll said, “I cannot understand, but I want to; how can I?”  The sea answered, “Touch me.”  So the doll shyly put forward a foot and touched the water and she got a strange impression that it was something that began to be knowable.  She withdrew her leg, looked and saw that her toes had gone, and she was afraid and said, “Oh, but where is my toe, what have you done to me?”  And the sea said, “You have given something in order to understand.”  Gradually the water took away small bits of the doll’s salt and the doll went farther and farther into the sea and at every moment she had a sense of understanding more and more, and yet of not being able to say what the sea was.  As she went deeper, she melted more and more, repeating: “But what is the sea?”  At last a wave dissolved the rest of her and the doll said: “It is I!”

Source | Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, Living Prayer ,
(Darton Longman and Todd, 19 66) pages 105-106

_____________________________

a slightly different rendition

A salt doll journeyed for thousands of miles over land, until it finally came to the sea.

It was fascinated by this strange moving mass, quite unlike anything it had ever seen before.

“Who are you?” said the salt doll to the sea.

The sea smilingly replied, “Come in and see.”

So the doll waded in.

The farther it walked into the sea the more it dissolved, until there was only very little of it left. Before that last bit dissolved, the doll exclaimed in wonder, “Now I know what I am!”

Source | Anthony De Mello, Song of the Bird
(Image Books, 1984), page 98

CONSIDER THIS

  • I have been crucified with Christ;  and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.Galatians 2:19-20
  • What is it that you need to give and what is it that you need to receive for a better understanding of who you really are?
  • What do you think is the relationship between you and the other, you and the rest of creation, you and the Other?

COME NOW AND ENTER INTO YOUR REST

Once upon a time there was a man who loved living in his tropical paradise.  Having been born on the island where his parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents had always lived, he held in his heart a special place for the beauty of the palm trees, the white sand, the sloping mountains, the gentle climate.

This man, approaching death, told his loved ones to place some island sand into each of his hands when he died, so that he might hold on to the memory of his beloved place forever.  They did, and so the man proceeded to the gates of heaven still clutching the sand.  At the gate, he was warmly greeted and told that as soon as he emptied his hands of the sand, he could enter into eternal joy.

The man was crushed, for he could not let go of what he loved so much, and so he waited. He waited for a long, long time: so long that at last his hands grew weary and could not longer hold the sand. It eventually slipped through his fingers, lost forever.

At that moment, Jesus came to him, holding the man as he sobbed at the loss of his memory, and said, “Come now and enter into your rest.” With that, Jesus walked with the man through the gates of heaven, where there before them both stretched out the entirety of the man’s beloved island.

Source | as told by Tim Muldoon, The Ignatian Workout
(Loyola Press, 2004) page 5

CONSIDER THIS

  • What are you holding on to that’s preventing  you from turning your life over to Life?
  • What is the “handful of sand” that you are still clinging to, blinding you to the amazing, expansive beauty of the whole beach?

PARADISE IS IN YOU

Once upon a time the prophet Elijah visited a very holy rabbi. The rabbi was surprised to see Elijah in his study and even more so when Elijah told him that God was pleased with him and he could have any gift that he’d like but he had to decide right then and there. The rabbi was flustered but he blurted out, “Do you think I could have a glimpse of Paradise‘? It would make it so much easier to live here on earth where there is so much pain and injustice if I could see it just this once.” And in a flash Elijah and the rabbi were standing inside the gates of heaven. The rabbi was floored—it was beyond description. Lovely, radiance permeating everything. He was speechless.

But as he looked around, he became dismayed and said to Elijah, “There’s hardly anyone here! Don’t tell me that after all these years there are so few that made it into Paradise? Where are all the saints, the holy ones?” Elijah looked at him and responded, “Rabbi, you of all people should know—the saints aren’t in Paradise, Paradise is in the saints! Oh, they come here, some of them, but they usually opt to return to earth so they can see the glory of God everywhere. Once you know that God’s glory resides in every human being and in some more than others, well, you go looking for it everywhere.”

And in another flash, the rabbi was back in his study, alone. He stood there for a long time pondering what he had seen, heard. and learned. And then he thought to himself: What in the world do people see when they look at me? Do they see that Paradise is within me and marvel at the glory of God shining on my face‘? And then, he thought again: How do I see all the people in my life, in the world? Do I see the glory of God radiantly shining on their faces? O God, have pity on me, on us all, and give me eyes to perceive your glory among us.

Source | Megan McKenna,  Praying the Rosary
(Doubleday, 2004) pages 134-135

CONSIDER THIS

  • What do people see when they look at me? Do they see that Paradise is within you and marvel at the glory of God shining on your face‘?
  • How do you see all the people in your life? Do you see the glory of God radiantly shining on their faces?

O God, on us all, and give us new eyes to see your glory in our midst.

THROUGH MY DAUGHTER’S EYES

I felt inadequate growing up; chubby, never pretty enough, bent on perfection, feeling like I always needed to be better. As a result, I spent a long, long time looking in the mirror, never seeing someone I liked.

Then one day all of that changed when I met for the first time a beautiful, passionate, and confident woman – myself …

It was a hot summer day and my daughter Jessica wanted to go swimming. I had a horrible headache and was feeling sorry for myself, having not yet lost the weight from my last pregnancy, eight months before.  I was on mommy overload  and had no energy left to go outside and play. I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

After an hour of Jessica begging me to at least try on my bathing suit, I agreed to take her swimming.  She sat on my bed, watching me try on two or three old bathing suits.

“That one’s beautiful,” she said, so sincerely.

“Oh no, this one is still a little too tight,” I replied, turning to look at the back of my thighs and then back to my paunchy stomach hanging over the seam. I was horrified.

“I like that one the best!” Jessie said, nodding her head for added enthusiasm.

“Yeah, I guess it looks okay,” I said halfheartedly.

“But how does it feeeeel, Mommy?” she asked.

I smiled at her attempts.

“Well, it feels pretty good. Let’s go swim.”

We ran out the back door and Jessica immediately jumped into the pool, begging me to jump in after her. But I like to go in the slow way, so I began inching my way in, toe first, then my ankle.

“Jump in Mommy!” Jessica squealed.

I was so hot, and knowing that I would have to start dinner soon, I figured, what the heck, and cannonballed into the water. Jessie was delighted that I hadn’t followed my normal routine, and she swam over to me splashing and kicking.  She gave me a big hug.

“How do you feel?” she squealed again.

“Cold,” I stammered, laughing and trying to catch my breath.

Jessica giggled and splashed around me some more, then threw her little arms around my neck.

“How do you feel now?” she asked.

“I feel great” I said with the enthusiasm I knew she was waiting to hear in my voice.

“See Mommy?” she said, smoothing my hair away from my face. “You do look beautiful.”

I climbed out of the pool and cannonballed in all over again. But this time, I left the old me standing behind on the deck – the me I never wanted Jessica to know. I felt young and happy again, cutting loose in the water with a new freedom …

I caught a glimpse of the way Jessica saw me, and I understood how awful she’d feel if she knew how bad I felt about myself.

Source | Marlo Thomas, Bruce Kluger, The Right Words at the Right Time Volume 2: Your Turn,
(Atria, 2007) pages 114-117

CONSIDER THIS

It is said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  Beauty is not inherent in anything – it’s how we look at things.

Beauty isn’t always something that you see; it’s also something that you do and that you feel –  laughing out loud,  dancing with gusto,  holding hands with someone you love,  reaching your goals,  running through the sprinklers, taking chances,  loving completely,  singing along with the car radio,   sharing your life with someone, knowing your kids think you’re funny, and cannonballing into a pool.

These things are beautiful.  They make you feel beautiful. Beautiful is not an adjective, but a verb.

JUST SHINE

When my daughter was small she got the dubious part of the Bethlehem star in a Christmas play. After her first rehearsal she burst through the door with her costume, a five-pointed star lined in shiny gold tinsel designed to drape over her like a sandwich board.

“What exactly will you be doing in the play?” I asked her.

“I just stand there and shine,” she told me.

Source | Sue Monk Kidd, When The Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions
(HarperOne 2006) page 61 

 CONSIDER THIS

  • The little girl gets it.  At some point, from Star of Bethlehem to adulthood, we obstruct that light.
  • What is stopping you from just standing there and shine? I started my own list of possible obstructors : fear, perfectionism, prejudice, comparisons, lack of healthy self-esteem, distractions, worry, anxiety …

THE FISHERMAN

Once upon a time there was an investment banker.  He lived in New York City, was phenomenally successful, and made a ton of money.  But his life was busy, noisy, and very stressful.

So, once a year, he would leave the city and go down to a small coastal village in Mexico.  For two weeks he would rest, relax, and allow himself to be rejuvenated.

One day he was standing on the pier just before lunch, looking out to sea, when he noticed a small fishing boat coming in to dock.  He thought this was a little strange, because most of the fishermen used to stay out late in to the afternoon so they could catch as many fish as possible, before coming in and preparing the fish for market.

Curiosity overcame him.  So he walked over to where the fishing boat was about to dock.  Looking into the boat, he saw just one fisherman and several large yellow fin tuna.

“How long did it take you to catch those fish?” he said to the fisherman.

“Not very long,” the fisherman replied with a smile.

“Is there something wrong with your boat?” the American asked.

“Oh, no,” the fisherman said.  “In thirteen years I have never had a problem with the boat.”

The American was a little perplexed, so he asked the fisherman, “Why don’t you stay out there longer and catch more fish?”

The fisherman smiled again and said, “This is plenty here for my family right now.  Some of the fish we can eat, and the others we can sell or trade for the other things we need.”

“But it’s not even lunchtime.  What do you do with the rest of your time?”

“In the morning,” the fisherman explained, “I like to sleep late.  When I wake I fish a little, mostly just for the pleasure of fishing.  In the afternoon I play with my children and take siesta with my wife.  In the evenings I have dinner with my family.  And then, when my children are sleeping, I stroll into the village, where I sip wine and play guitar with my friends.”

The American scoffed and said, “I’m a Harvard MBA and I can help you.” 

The fisherman was a little skeptical, but nonetheless he obliged and asked, “How?”

“You should fish longer every day,” the American counseled, “late into the afternoon.  This way you will catch more fish and make more money, and you can buy a bigger boat.  With the bigger boat you will catch even more fish, make even more money, and then you can buy another boat and hire another man to work the second boat.”

“But what then?” the fisherman inquired.

“Oh, we are just getting started! With two boats you’ll catch even more fish and make even more money, and before you know it, you’ll have a whole fleet of boats and every man in the village looking for work will come to you.”

“But what then?” the fisherman asked.

“Before too long, you can cut out the middleman, sell your fish direct to the cannery, and make more money.  As your fleet of boats continues to expand, you can build your own cannery.  And before you know it, you’ll be able to leave this small coastal village, move to Mexico City, and manage your expanding enterprise.”

“But what then?” the fisherman asked.

“Before too long, you can cut out the middleman, sell your fish direct to the cannery, and make more money. As your fleet of boats continues to expand, you can build your own cannery. And before you know it, you’ll be able to leave this small coastal village, move to Mexico City, and manage your expanding enterprise.”

“But what then?” the fisherman persisted.

“Well then, you can begin to ship your fish to different parts of the world. Down into Asia and Australia and up into North America. And as demand grows for your fish, you can leave Mexico City, move to Los Angeles, open a distribution plant there, and begin to ship your fish to Europe and every corner of the globe.”

“But what then?” the fisherman asked again.

The American continued, “By then your business will be one of the great ventures of the industry. You can move to New York City and manage your empire from the epicenter of the business world.”

“How long will all this take?” the fisherman asked.

“Twenty-five, maybe thirty years,” the banker explained.

“But what will I do then?” the fisherman asked.

The American’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. “That’s the best part,” he said. “When the time is just right, you can go down to Wall Street, list your business as a public company, offer an IPO, and make millions and millions of dollars.”

“Millions?” the fisherman asked.

“More money than you ever dreamed you could earn in ten lifetimes,” the American explained.

“But what then?” the fisherman asked.

The American did not know what to say. He had reached his climax. He was stumped. But then a thought crossed his mind and triggered an idea, and he turned once more to the fisherman and spoke.

“Well then, you could move to a small coastal village. . . . You could sleep late. . . . You could fish just for the pleasure of fishing. . . . In the afternoons, you could take siesta with your wife. . . . In the evenings, you could have dinner with your family . . . and then you could stroll into the village and sip wine and play guitar and sing songs with your friends. . . .”

Source | Matthew Kelly, Off Balance
(Hudson Street Press, 2011)

CONSIDER THIS

Who do you identify most with, the fisherman or the investment banker?