SHOOTING THE WRONG TARGET

There was a man who’d spent his whole life in the desert and had never seen a train or even a train track. When at last he made his first visit to civilization, he found himself walking down the very middle of some tracks. He heard a whistle, woo-woo, woo-woo. He wondered what it was, and he was still wondering when the train hit him and threw him 40 feet in the air.

Six months later, he left the hospital and before long went to visit a friend’s house. While he was in the kitchen, he heard the tea kettle whistling, woo-woo, woo-woo.  Without a word, he dashed to his car, grabbed his shotgun, and shot that poor tea kettle dead.

“Why’d you do that?” asked his wide-eyed host.

“Brother,” said the desert man, “you gotta kill them critters while they’re still small.”

Source | Dennis R. Clark, SUNDAY MORNING: Reflections on the Word
(Sheed and Ward, 1996) Cycle A
Second Sunday of Advent

CONSIDER THIS

Shooting tea kettles accomplishes absolutely nothing, yet in many ways we do that sort of thing all the time. If you doubt that, listen to our conversations on the phone, on the golf course, in the car, or just about anywhere. From all the tut-tutting, deploring and lamenting, one could easily conclude that the world is populated almost entirely by idiots, knaves and incompetents, and that the only exceptions are you and me … and sometimes I wonder about you!

Remember what that cartoon character, Pogo, said? “We have seen the enemy, and it is us.” He was right. But unfortunately, too often we see the enemy as outside us, and that’s what we take aim at … and the poor tea kettles of this world get shot dead.

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ARE YOU IN THE RIGHT PLACE?

A  mother and a baby camel were talking one day when the baby camel asked, “Mom, why do we have these huge two-toed feet?

The mother replied, “Well son, when we trek across the desert, our toes will help us stay on top of the soft sand.”

Two minutes later the young camel asked, “Mom, why do we have these long eyelashes?”

“They are there to keep the sand out of our eyes on the trips through the desert,” the mother said.

“Mom, why have we got these great big humps on our back?”

“They are there to help us store water for our long treks across the desert, so we can go without drinking for long periods of time.”

“So we have huge feet to stop us from sinking, long eyelashes to keep the sand out of our eyes, and these humps to store water.”

“Yes dear,” said the mother.

“So why are we in the Toronto Zoo?”

CONSIDER THIS

  • Skills, knowledge, abilities and experiences are only useful if you are at the right place.
  • Where are you now?

THE NAKED TRUTH CLOTHED

Truth entered a village naked as the day she was born. The villagers had one look at the naked truth and were afraid of the stark harshness and drove her out in anger and malice.

Dejected, the Truth wandered in the desert. Without food and nourishment, she weakened and would have soon died of loneliness. One day she got to the home of the Parable. Parable took her in, nursed her back to life. Soon the Truth was feeling well again. This time she returned to the same village clothed in a parable and was welcome and accepted with ease.

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Whenever, and wherever stories are told – be it through teaching, preaching, counselling, spiritual companionship, management – a chord is plucked within the understanding of the listeners. Often the story is heard by the ear, but listened to by the sub-conscious mind where its deeper meaning resides.

 

PRIME THE PUMP FIRST

There was a man who got lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time his throat became very dry, about that time he saw a little shack in the distance. He made his way over to the shack and found a water pump with a small jug of water and a note. The note read: “Pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it, if you do this you will get all the water you need”.

Now the man had a choice to make, if he trusted the note and poured the water in and it worked he would have all the water he needed. If it didn’t work he would still be thirsty and he might die. Or he could choose to drink the water in the jug and get immediate satisfaction, but it might not be enough and he still might die. After thinking about it the man decided to risk it. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work the handle, at first nothing happened and he got a little scared but he kept going and water started coming out. So much water came out he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find.

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • What would you have done? How comfortable are you with risk?
  • Where do you stand when it comes to “instant gratification” and “delayed gratification”?

An intriguing sociological study asked fifty people over the age of ninety five one question: ’If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?’ One of the top three answers that emerged and dominated the results of the study was “If I had to do it over again, I would risk more.” The problem for most of us is we are more afraid of failure than we are of regret. Too often, by the time we wake up, it’s too late. The next time you are tempted to play it safe, ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I risking by playing it safe?
  • What do I stand to gain by taking the risk?
  • What do I stand to lose by not taking this risk?
  • What would I do today if I were going to be really brave?

THE SLEEPING BROTHER

Some old men went to Abba Poemen and asked,

“If we see brothers sleeping during the common prayer, should we wake them?”

Abba Poemen answered,
“If I see my brother sleeping, I put his head on my knees and let him rest.”
Then one old man spoke up,
“And how do you explain yourself before God?”
Abba Poemen replied,
“I say to God: You have said, ‘First take the beam out of your own eye and then you will be able to remove the splinter from the eye of your brother.”

Source | Stories from the Desert Fathers

PONDER AND CONSIDER

How much precious time do we waste watching what others are doing and perhaps judging them intentionally or unintentionally? What if we use that energy to try and be fully present to what we are supposed to be doing?

DESERT OR BEACH?

Did you hear about the guy from Brooklyn who was in the Sahara Desert in swimming trunks, for heaven’s sake, and a towel?  Walking in the Sahara Desert, he meets an Arab, and he says, “Hi.”  And the Arab says, “Hi.”  He asks, “How far away from here is the sea?”

“The sea? For heaven’s sake,” says the Arab, “that’s a thousand miles away from here.”  And the guy from Brooklyn says, “Boy, some beach you guys have out here!”

Source | Anthony de Mello, Rediscovering Life, page 102

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • A beach? Now is this optimism and a positive outlook on reality or radical ignorance verging on stupidity?
  • What is the difference between a sandy beach and a desert?