UNTIL I AM TIRED OF DYING

On one of the few occasions that the disciple was able to Skype  the master – who for years has been working with refugees in a remote, far-flung, refugee camp under very difficult and dangerous conditions – a conversation ensued and the disciple asked, “How long will you remain there?”

And the master answered, “Until I am tired of dying.”

Source: Adapted by Philip Chircop from a recently heard story.

CONSIDER THIS

“We ought to learn how to die before we die, so that when we die, we won’t die.” 

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”  John 12:24-25 (The Message)

A DISCONCERTING REAPPEARANCE

Once upon a time a young man who had been reported killed in action came home from a prisoner of war camp. His family and his buddies and even his girlfriend had mourned him as dead and then more or less got over their grief.

His sudden reappearance was disconcerting, to say the least. They had all loved him, but they had in effect written him out of their lives. His girlfriend was engaged to marry someone else. Moreover, he didn’t seem like the boy who had gone off to war. He was thin and haggard and haunted.

However, he was now mature, self-possessed, and, astonishingly, happy. He hadn’t smiled much as a kid and rarely joked. Now he was witty and ebullient all the time. A quiet kid had become an outgoing adult man. He didn’t fit in the patterns of relationships he had left behind. Quite the contrary, his happiness and maturity were unsettling. He congratulated his former girlfriend on her coming marriage and shook hands cordially with the fiancé. There’s something wrong with him, everyone said. His family went to the priest. There sure is, the priest said – he has risen from the dead and now acts like a saint.

Source: Andrew M. Greeley, April 20, 2003
www.agreeley.com

CONSIDER THIS

  • “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26
  • “What requires courage is being willing to disappoint and upset all those friends and family members who want us to stay the way we are, because they want to stay the way they are. It’s being prepared to redefine success and failure, and to become a fool if need be. At heart it’s being willing to receive information from the darkness within, so there can be less of us that is buried, and more of us resurrected.”  -David Weale

BACK TO LIFE

A widow’s husband was about to be buried. Family, relatives and friends gathered at the funeral home for the wake.

When the pallbearers were carrying the casket out of the funeral parlour, they accidentally bumped it against the exit door, and lo and behold the man came back to life.

Some years later the husband died again.  This time, following the prayers at the mortuary, the widow looked at the pallbearers, as they were bringing the casket out, and said to them, “Go slow and pay attention. Please, make sure you don’t hit the door again!”

Source: Unknown

CONSIDER THIS

Monk and author Thomas Merton once said that in considering any important decision in life, and certainly in considering our priorities in life, it’s imperative to “consult our death.”

Remembering that we all have an expiration date can help us live our lives to the fullest.

FALLING INTO THE CUP

Once there were two ants sitting on the rim of a cup that contained amrta, the nectar of immortality. As they were talking, one of the ants lost his balance and was about to fall into the cup. He somehow managed to get back on the rim. The other ant asked him, ‘Why don’t you want to fall into the cup? Even if you drown in this, you will become only immortal.’

The first ant replied, ‘But I don’t want to drown!’

Source: Nithyananda Paramahamsa, Bhagavad Gita Demystified, Volume 3 (Life Bliss Foundation, 2009) page 260

 CONSIDER THIS

We don’t realize that merging with the collective consciousness will liberate us in totality. We resist and hold on to ourselves. As long as we do not disappear into the collective consciousness, we continuously create hell for ourselves and for others.

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” (John 12:24-45, The Message)

WHAT HAPPENED ON EASTER?

“Can anyone tell me what happened on Easter?” the pastor in an affluent inner city parish asked. There was total and utter silence.

The pastor, persisting, asked again politely, “Now I know that someone here knows what happened on Easter a long, long time ago.” Again, total silence.

Finally, visibly frustrated, the pastor asked more forcefully, “Will somebody, anybody,  please tell me what happened on Easter Sunday!”

Finally, little Freddie (never at a loss for words) tentatively raised his hand and said, “They killed Jesus!”

“That’s right,” said the pastor, “And then what?”

“They put him in the ground!” (Freddie spoke with more confidence).

“Right! Right! Very good!” the proud pastor affirmed, “and then what?”

“And he was there for three days!” continued Freddie, now fully trusting his voice.

“And then what?” the pastor continued.

“And on Easter morning, Jesus comes out of the ground!” continued Freddie, now fully confident he had it all right.

“Wonderful! Amazing! Perfect!” the pastor joyfully agreed.

And then Freddie continued, ”And if Jesus sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of bad weather, six more weeks of winter!”

Source | As heard and remembered
during a recent conference I happened to be part of.

CONSIDER THIS

A lot of people are like little Freddie –  they know bits and pieces about the Easter story, but the details are not all that clear. In the midst of easter bunnies and colourfully painted eggs, it’s easy to forget the real meaning of greatest festival of faith: Easter!

Today, and in the coming days, consider this: what is Easter for you” What does it mean? And what difference does it make in your life?

TWINS IN THE WOMB

Twins are talking to each other in the womb.  The sister said to the brother, “I believe there is life after birth.”  Her brother protested vehemently, “No, no, this is all there is. This is a dark and cozy place, and we have nothing else to do but to cling to the cord that feeds us.” The little girl insisted, “There must be something more than this dark place. There must be something else, a place with light where there is freedom to move.” Still she could not convince her twin brother.

After some silence, the sister said hesitantly, “I have something else to say, and I’m afraid you won’t believe that, either, but I think there is a mother.” Her brother became furious. “A mother!” he shouted. “What are you talking about?” I have never seen a mother, and neither have you. Who put that idea in your head? As I told you, this place is all we have. Why do you always want more?. This is not such a bad place, after all. We have all we need, so let’s be content.”

The sister was quite overwhelmed by her brother’s response and for a while didn’t dare say anything more. But she couldn’t let go of her thoughts, and since she only had her twin brother to speak to, she finally said, “Don’t you feel these squeezes every once in a while? They’re quite unpleasant and sometimes even painful.” “Yes,” he answered. “What’s special about that?” “Well”, the sister said, “I think that these squeezes are there to get us ready for another place, much more beautiful than this, where we will see our mother face-to-face. Don’t you think that’s exciting”

Source | Henri Nouwen, Our Greatest Gift, A Meditation on Dying and Caring 
(Harper One, 2009) pages 18-19.

CONSIDER THIS

This is a story about birth and life outside the womb. But can it  also be a story about death? Can it perhaps be an  invitation to think about death in a fresh way?  We can live as if this life were all we had, coming to an end with the absurdity of death. Or we can choose to claim our divine childhood and trust that death is the painful but graceful passage that will bring us face-to-face with God, our mother.

THE PRODIGAL FATHER

Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’

 “So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.

“That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.

“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’

“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.

“All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’

“The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’

“His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”

Source | Eugene Peterson, The Message, Luke 15: 11-32

PONDER AND CONSIDER

In The Prodigal God, Timothy Keller uses this parable to describe two different types of people with two different ways of engaging the world, each represented by the two brothers.  One type needs to experience the world, make mistakes, and seek forgiveness.  The other needs to stay behind, work hard, only to be disappointed when God treats both kinds equally.

  • Where do you see yourself in the story? Are you the younger brother? The older brother? The welcoming father? How do you feel as you enter the story and watch it unfold?
  • In both cases – the younger brother away with the pigs, or the older brother much closer but still outside the Father’s house – what is it going to take to wake up and come to your senses?