FOCUS ON WHAT YOU HAVE

Two friends met on the street. One of them was very down. He seemed a bit agitated and resentful.

The other friend asked him, “What has the world done to you to make you feel this way?”

The friend responded, “Well, you know, three weeks ago an uncle died and he left me $40,000.”

“Hmmm.” the other said. “Well, I don’t really view that as a problem. Is there something else?”

“Well, yeah, you see, two weeks ago, a cousin died and left me $85,000.”

“Wow, that’s great! So, what’s the problem?”

“You don’t understand. You see, last week, my great aunt died, and she left me almost a quarter million dollars!”

The friend shook his head and said, “Okay, I guess I’m just not understanding something here. I understand that members of your family died, and I can understand your pain and loss. But after all, as a result, you are being blessed beyond what most of us could hope for.”

“No, you really don’t understand,” the other replied. “You see, this week … nothing.”

Source | Martie McMane, Living Grace: Spiritual Growth in the Everyday World
(Marlin Press, 2011) page 129.

CONSIDER THIS

How easy it is to focus on what we don’t have and go blind to what we do have.

 

DON’T GET TOO ATTACHED

Little Alice was captivated with the stories of Jesus, especially the eventual death of Jesus on the cross.  And she was overjoyed when she was chosen to be an angel in the school nativity play.  She learned her lines to perfection.

However, little Alice was known to add her own logic to every situation.  So the nativity play was well under way and when it was Alice’s turn to say her lines to Mary, she said: “Don’ t worry, Mary, you will have a lovely baby and you will call him Jesus.”  Then she added, “But I wouldn’t get too attached to him because he’ll be gone by Easter.”

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

As one year ends and another one starts, let’s ponder all the joyful and sorrowful mysteries of our own lives.  And in doing so prayerfully and playfully …  pondering … reflecting … reviewing and perhaps even reframing our lived realities, let’s not get too attached to any of the past chapter of our ever unfolding, unique, sacred biography.  All past chapters are only stepping stones that gently move us forward with courage and wisdom, hope and wild imagination into the new year.

 

THE FLOWER LADY

One evening a workman was wearily plodding his way home when he stopped to rest by the side of the road.  A woman came by the place hauling a cart full of flowers.  The smell of her blossoms so perfumed the air with sweetness that it seemed to take away the weariness in his bones and to lighten his spirits.  He had never experienced such wonder from the many blooms of his own garden.  “How much must I pay, or what must I do, to have some of your wonderful flowers? he asked the woman.”

“Oh, good sir,” she said, “take what you wish.”

“What return must I make for them?” he questioned again.

“Your gratitude is enough,” she said.

So the man filled his arms with blossoms and hastened joyfully home.  And his wife and his children rejoiced with him over the remarkable flowers, for they, too, discovered that the sight of them was a delight and the smell of them refreshed the soul.

So as not to lose his treasure, the man planted the blossoms in a small plot of land behind his house.  Sunlight and water kept them amazingly beautiful, still performing their marvelous magic.

When children came to play in the yard, the man cautioned them against carelessness and wild play lest they trample the flowers and damage them.  But the flowers remained hardy and strong so long as there was enough sun and moisture to nourish them.  Nowhere else could the man or his wife or children find such remarkable solace from weariness, such comfort in sadness, such spiritual nourishment as those remarkable flowers provided.  Here was a treasure beyond value.

And as the family grew and more children came to play in the garden, the man became even more concerned over his remarkable flowers. He was determined to protect them, and so he built a high wall around them.  In time, because of his numerous children, he would allow them entrance to the small sanctuary only sparingly and with the utmost care.

Unfortunately, this began to cause consternation among the family members.  If the children caused their father stress or anguish, he would refuse them access to the flowers.  Eventually he set up rules as to who may enter the sanctuary, how they must enter, and what they must do while they’re in there.  For his part he continued to see that his treasure received enough sunlight and water so that the flowers continued to perform their wondrous magic.

As grandchildren began to appear, the man felt even greater need to safeguard his treasure.  Access to the flowers was open to all members of his family, but not without certain precautions. Requirements were to be met and standards upheld.  Offices were established to judge worthiness and to determine accessibility.  It became necessary to have lawyers to defend and judges to weigh and guards to safeguard and caretakers to upkeep, and on and on and on.

The man’s family, however, saw less and less of the flowers and experienced less and less of their magical powers. In the meantime, many of them went out in search of the flower lady.  Well, she was still out there, still giving away her amazing flowers.

Source | John Aurelio, Colors. Stories of the Kingdom
Also in William J. Bausch
A World of Stories for Preachers and Teachers: And All Who Love Stories
pages 223-224

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • All gifts are freely given. We can either cling to them allowing ourselves to be possessed by our possessions or learn how to embrace them with a habitually relaxed grasp.
  • Caught off guard and distracted it is easy to lose right perspective, constricting ourselves and others with rigid rules made by well-meaning caretakers. What do you think?
  • Can it be that perhaps the official interpretation often becomes more important than the text, and the text becomes more important than the One behind it?

CUT THE ROPE TIED TO YOUR WAIST

As the night fell heavy in the heights of the mountains a climber got lost and could not see anything. All was black and there was zero visibility.  The moon and the stars were covered by the clouds. He continued climbing disorientated, but only a few feet away from the top of the mountain, suddenly he slipped and fell into the air, falling at great speed. He could only see black spots as he went down, and the terrible sensation of being sucked by gravity.

He kept falling, and in the moments of great fear, it came to his mind all the good and bad episodes of his life. He was thinking now about how close death was getting, when all of a sudden he felt the rope tied to his waist pull him very hard. His body was hanging in the air.

Only the rope was holding him and in that moment of stillness he had no other choice but to scream: “Help me God.”

All of a sudden a deep voice coming from the sky answered, “What do you want me to do?” “Save me God.” And God replied “Do you really think I can save you?” “Of course I believe You can.”

“Then cut the rope tied to your waist.”

There was a moment of silence and the man decided to hold on to the rope with all his strength. The next morning the rescue team reported that a climber was found dead and frozen, his body hanging from a rope. His hands holding tight to it. Only one foot away from the ground.

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • What are the ropes that are killing you slowly?  How attached are you to these ropes? 
  • What are the disordinate attachments that are robbing you of the precious gift of life?
  • What is it going to take to learn the gentle art of letting go?
  • Do you believe that sometimes the best way forward is to go with the flow and trust that “all shall be well”?