DIRECTIONS

A woman calls up her friend. She says, “Becky, l understand you got a new apartment.”

Becky says, “l do. I got a pretty apartment. Why don‘t you come visit?”

“I’d love to visit, but I don’t know where you live. You gotta give me directions.”

I live on I486 Eighty-sixth Street. You’ll take the train, get off at Eighty-sixth Street. You’ll see a big apartment complex, 1486. Outside. you’ll see a double door. With your right elbow, press down the handle from the door. push open the door, and you’ll be in what we call a vestibule.

“In the vestibule’s a list of bells. I’m apartment 4B. With the left elbow, press 4B; it’ll ring upstairs. As soon as I hear the ring, I’ll buzz you.

“When you hear the buzz, with your right elbow press on the inside of the door, push open the door, go straight ahead to the elevator, and with the left elbow press UP.

You’ll get in the elevator; with the right elbow press 4 for the fourth floor. The door will open up; you’ll go straight into my apartment. 4B.

“You’ll ring the doorbell with the right elbow. Give it a couple of knocks with the left elbow; I’ll answer the door. You’ll come in; we’ll have coffee.”

Her friend interrupts, fed up. “What kind of directions are these, with the elbow? The left elbow, the right elbow. What’s with the elbow?”

Becky says, “What? You’re coming empty-handed?”

Source: Sam Hoffman, Eric Spiegelman,
Old Jews Telling Jokes: 5,000 Years of Funny Bits and Not-So-Kosher Laughs,
(Villard, 2010) page 35

CONSIDER THIS

What if the real and most beautiful gift we can offer one another is that of Presence! Don’t we after all call a ‘gift’, a ‘present’?  What gift is it if I don’t make myself fully present in what I am giving?

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USE YOUR GOLD

A miser hid his gold at the foot of a tree in his garden. Every week he would dig it up and look at it for hours. One day a thief dug up the gold and made off with it. When the miser next came to gaze upon his treasure, all he found was an empty hole.

The man began to howl with grief so his neighbors came running to find out what the trouble was. When they found out, one of them asked, “Did you use any of the gold?”

“No,” said the miser. “I only looked at it every week.”

“Well, then.” said the neighbor, “for all the good the gold did you, you might just as well come her every week and gaze upon the hole.”

Source |  Anthony De Mello, SJ | The Heart of the Enlightened,
Doubleday,1989) page 20

CONSIDER THIS

It is not by our money but by our capacity for enjoyment that we are rich or poor. To strive for wealth and have no capacity for enjoyment is to be like the bald man who struggles to collect combs.

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Here’s a slightly different version

Once upon a time there was a wealthy miser who melted down his hoard of gold into a single lump which he then secretly buried in his garden. every day he went to look at it, and would spend hours gloating over it.

Then one of his servants discovered his secret, and came by night and stole the gold. when the miser discovered that his treasure had been stolen, he was heart-broken.

But a friend said to him. “Don’t take it so badly. Just put a brick on the hole, and take a look at it every day. You won’t be any worse off than before, for even when you had the gold you never used it.”

All of us bury some talent which we refuse to use either for our own benefit of for the benefit of others. And what us buried is of no earthly use to anyone.

Source | Flor McCarthy SDB, New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies
(Dominican Publications, 1998) pages 346-347

THE STORY OF BAMBOO

Once upon a time in the heart of the Western Kingdom lay a beautiful garden. And there in the cool of the day the Master of the garden liked to walk. Of all the creatures of the garden, the most beautiful and most beloved was a gracious and noble bamboo tree. Year after year Bamboo grew yet more noble and beautiful, conscious of her Master’s love and watchful delight, but always modest and gentle.

And often, when the wind came to revel in the garden, Bamboo would cast aside her grave stateliness to dance and play merrily, tossing and swaying and leaping and bowing in joyous abandon, leading the Great Dance  of the Garden,  which delighted the Master’s heart.

Now one day the Master sat down to contemplate his Bamboo with eyes of curious expectancy, Bamboo, in a passion of adoration,  bowed her great head to the ground in loving greeting. The Master spoke: “Bamboo,  I would use you.”

Bamboo flung her head to the sky in utter delight. The day of days had come, the day for which she had been made, the day to which she had been growing, hour by hour, the day in which she would find her completion and her destiny. Her voice came softly:  “Master, I am ready. Use me as you will!”

“Bamboo,”  – the Master’s voice was grave, “I would like take you and cut you down.”

“Cut … me … down! Me, whom you, Master, have made the most beautiful in all your garden … cut me down! Not that, not that. Use me for your joy, O Master, but cut me not down!”

“Beloved Bamboo,” – the Master’s voice grew graver still –  “if I do not cut you down, I cannot use you. 

The garden grew still … Wind held his breath. Bamboo slowly bent her proud and glorious head. There came a whisper: “Master, if you cannot use me unless you cut me down … then … do your will and cut!”

“Bamboo, beloved Bamboo, I need to cut your leaves and your branches from you also.”

“Master, Master, please spare me. Cut me down and lay my beauty in the dust, but would you  also take from me my leaves and branches?”

“Bamboo, if I do not cut them away, I cannot use you.”

The Sun hid his face. A listening butterfly glided fearfully away. And Bamboo shivered in terrible expectancy, whispering low, “Master, cut away.”

“Bamboo, Bamboo, I would also split you in two and cut out your heart, for if I don’t  I cannot use you.”

Then was Bamboo bowed to the ground: “Master, Master … then cut me and split me.”

So did the Master of the garden took Bamboo and cut her down and hacked off her branches and stripped off her leaves and cleaved her in two and cut out her heart. And lifting her gently, he carried her to where there was a spring of fresh, sparkling water in the midst of his dry fields. Then putting one end of broken Bamboo into the spring and the other end into the water channel in his field, the Master laid down gently his beloved Bamboo. The clear sparkling water raced joyously down the channel of Bamboo’s torn body into the waiting fields. Then the rice was planted and the days went by, and the shoots grew, and the harvest came.

In that day was Bamboo, once so glorious in her stately beauty, yet more glorious in her brokenness and humility. For in her beauty she was life abundant, but in her brokenness she became a channel of abundant life to her Master’s world!

Source | Daniel O’Leary, Year of the Heart: A Spirituality for Lovers, (Paulist Press 1989), pages 85-87

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • Amidst brokenness, how do we become channels of abundant life?
  • Contemplate the story through two different frames: First, be the bamboo. In a second reading, imagine yourself the master. How do you respond to the two readings? 
  • “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. | Mark 8:34,35
  • “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24

 

 

PERFUME FOR MY WIFE

On Christmas Eve, Nathan thought it would be nice to buy his wife a little gift for the next day. Always short of money, he thought long and hard about what that present might be. Unable to decide, Nathan entered Dillard’s and in the cosmetics section he asked the girl, “How about some perfume?”  She showed him a bottle costing $150.00

“Too expensive,” muttered Nathan.

The young lady returned with a smaller bottle for $75.00.

“Oh dear,” Nathan groused, “still far too much.”

Growing rather annoyed at Nathan’s meanness, the sales girl brought out a tiny $30.00 bottle and offered it to him. Nathan became really agitated, “What I mean”, he whined, “is I’d like to see something really cheap.”

So the sales girl handed him a mirror.

Source | unknown

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A slightly different version

At the end of a long business trip, a man was searching for a gift to take home to his wife. “How about some perfume?” he asked the clerk. She showed him a bottle for 50.

“That’s too much,” he replied. So the clerk showed him a smaller bottle for 30.“That’s still quite a bit,” he complained.

Rolling her eyes, the clerk brought out a tiny bottle for 15. Again he shook his head. “What I mean is I’d like to see something real cheap.” With that the clerk handed him a mirror!

Source | Dennis R. Clark, Sunday Morning (1996).

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Does your mirror reflect scarcity or abundance?