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.

 

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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?

LETTING GO

Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and there were puddles of water on the road sides. At one place a beautiful young woman was standing unable to walk across because of a puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went up to a her lifted her and left her on the other side of the road, and continued his way to the monastery.

In the evening the younger monk came to the elder monk and said, “Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman.”

The elder monk answered “yes, brother”.

Then the younger monk asks again, “but then Sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside ?”

The elder monk smiled at him and told him ” I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her.”

______________________________

Another version of the same story titled Muddy Road :

Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy raod. A heavy rain was still falling.

Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

“Come on, girl,” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until the night when they reached the lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. “We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?’

“I left the girl there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?” (p 591)

Source | Paul RepsNyogen Senzaki,  Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-zen Writings, pages 33-34

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Learn the art of letting go and all shall be well. In life we face many unpleasant things and people sometimes. They irritate us and they make us angry. Sometimes, they cause us a lot of hurt, sometimes they cause us to be bitter or jealous. But like the novice monk, we are not willing to drop the irritation, drop the attachment. We go through life carrying the unnecessary baggage with us.

 

 

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”?

 

MORE PRECIOUS THAN DIAMONDS

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me something more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”

Another version of the same story goes like this:

The sannyasi [wise man] had reached the outskirts of the village and settled down under a tree for the night when a villager came running up to him and said, “The stone! The stone! Give me the precious stone!”

“What stone?” asked the sannyasi.

“Last night the Lord Shiva appeared to me in a dream,” said the villager, “And told me that if I went to the outskirts of the village at dusk I should find a sannyasi who would give me a precious stone that would make my rich forever.”

The sannyasi rummaged in his bag and pulled out a stone. “He probably meant this one,” he said, as he handed the stone over to the villager. “I found it on a forest path some days ago. You can certainly have it.”

The man gazed at the stone in wonder. It was a diamond, probably the largest diamond in the whole world, for it was as large as a person’s head.

He took the diamond and walked away. All night he tossed about in bed, unable to sleep. Next day at the crack of dawn he woke the sannyasi and said, “Give me the wealth that makes it possible for you to give this diamond away so easily.”

“The Diamond” from The Song of the Bird by Anthony de Mello SJ

The same story is also recounted in
The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everyting: A Spiritual Guide to Real Life by  James Martin, SJ