LOVING WHOLEHEARTEDLY

An eager young man longing to live a good life, went to his rabbi and said, “I know that the Hebrew Scriptures say that we ought to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, all our strength. But I am very much aware that my heart and soul and mind and strength have bad parts in them. So, tell me, how can I love God?”

After a pause the rabbi replied, “Well, it seems that you’re going to have to learn how to love God with the bad parts too.”

Source: Unknown

CONSIDER THIS

“The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest, but wholeheartedness.” David Steindl-Rast in response to a question by poet David Whyte.

“In fiction good people do good things and bad people do bad: that’s why it is called fiction!” (Oscar Wilde) In real life bad people can do good things and good people can do bad things.

ENCOUNTERING THE LIVING GOD

“It was Thomas Aquinas’s proofs for the existence of God that brought me into the Church,” said the eager theology student to his professor.

“I’m very happy for you,” replied Sofia, the wise, seasoned and experienced  teacher, “they almost drove me out of it.”

Source: As remembered and retold by Philip Chircop SJ

CONSIDER THIS

There’s a big difference between proving the existence of God and experiencing  God; between explaining God and encountering God. Thinking, analysis, and philosophical arguments are lovely and can be very helpful tools but they also run the risk of boxing up the faith in dangerous and suffocating systems of belief.

Analyzing God or faith is like dissecting a frog, when you take it apart, you might find out what it’s made up of, but the frog itself is killed in the process.

How do you experience and encounter the divine?

BARKING DOGS

Bob: Don’t be afraid of my dog. You know the old proverb, “A barking dog never bites”.

Richard: “I know the proverb, you know the proverb, but does your dog know the proverb?”

Source | Lachman Mehta, Stolen Treasures
(Xlibris Corporation, 2012) page 248

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Here’s a slightly different version

Ned goes over to see his neighbour who has a very ferocious-looking dog. As Ned approaches the door the dog begins to bark wildly and his neighbour says to him, “Come on in, Ned! Don’t be afraid of my dog. You know the old proverb: A barking dog never bites.” “Yes,” replied Ned, “I know the proverb, and you know the proverb, but does your dog know it?” Before we have an agreement on when a dog can bite and when it cannot, we must first make sure the dog is party to the agreement.

CONSIDER THIS

In the same vein, any attempt by humans to legislate on where and through whom God and God’s Holy Spirit can act or cannot act is nothing but a futile attempt to shrink God. For God cannot be limited. The Holy Spirit of God breathes where she wills and is not the monopoly of any faith tradition.

 

LEFT OUT

A public sinner was excommunicated and forbidden entry to the church.  He took his woes to God. “They won’t let me in, Lord, because I am a sinner.”

“What are you complaining about?” said God. “They won’t let Me in either.”

Source | Anthony de MelloPrayer of the Frog: Volume 1
(Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, 2003) page  105

Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight
(Image: 3rd Revised edition,1990) page 80

CONSIDER THIS

We can, as Christians, get narrow and closed-minded, petty, bitter and exclusive. We can become more holy than God where perfection becomes the enemy of the good.

But we can also go long and deep, broad, expansive and inclusive!

 

BORROWING FROM GOD

A man was taking it easy, laying on the grass and looking up at the clouds. He was identifying shapes when he decided to talk to God.

“God”, he said, “how long is a million years?”

God answered, “In my frame of reference, it’s about a minute.”

The man asked, “God, how much is a million dollars?”

God answered, “To me, it’s a penny.”

The man then asked, “God, can I have a penny?”

God answered, “In a minute.”

Source | Roger Kuder, Jokes and Riddles
(lulu.com, 2012)  page 11

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Another rendition of the same story:

A man was talking to God one day, and he said, “God, I have always wanted to ask you this question.” He said, “God, from your perspective how long is a million years?”

God said, “In my perspective, a million years is a second.”

“Wow, a second!” He then said, “God, from your perspective, how much is a million dollars?”

God said, “From my perspective, a million dollars is a penny.”

“Man, that is unbelievable!” Then he said, “God, could I borrow a penny?”

And God said, “Sure, just a second.”

Source | David William Joutras, Spiritual Stories I Have Heard

CONSIDER THIS

For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night. | Psalm 90:4 (NRSV)

Patience! You’ve got all the time in the world—whether a thousand years or a day, it’s all the same to you. | Psalm 90:4 (The Message)

WHEN GOD CREATED MOTHERS

When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into his sixth day of “overtime” when an angel appeared and said, “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And the Lord said, “Have you read the specs on this order?

  • She has to be completely washable, but not plastic;
  • Have 180 movable parts… all replaceable;
  • Run on black coffee and leftovers;
  • Have a lap that disappears when she stands up;
  • A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair;
  • And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands… no way.”

“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

“That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.

The Lord nodded. “One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ’What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, ’I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

“Lord,” said the angel, touching His sleeve gently, “Go to bed. Tomorrow…”

“I can’t,” said the Lord, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick… can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger… and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.

“But she’s tough!” said the Lord excitedly. “You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

“Can it think?”

“Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. “There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told You You were trying to push too much into this model.”

“It’s not a leak,” said the Lord. “It’s a tear.”

“What’s it for?”

“It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

“You are a genius,” said the angel.

The Lord looked somber. “I didn’t put it there,” He said.

Source | Erma Bombeck, When God Created Mothers
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2005

Originally published as a column on Mother’s Day, May 12, 1974

TASTE AND KNOW

A holy man sitting atop the Himalaya put up a big sign that read “For two cents, I will give you an experience of God.”  People came from all around the world to see him.  He told them to place the money in a little bowl beside him, and then he gave them a few grains of sugar.  He told them to eat the sugar. 

                  Source | Based on Paul Coutinho sj, How big is Your God, page.14.

PONDER AND CONSIDER

The holy man did not ask them to describe the taste of sugar or talk about its sweetness.  He invited them to eat the sugar and experience its texture and its flavour first hand.

What is sweetness?  It can be analyzed in a chemist’s lab.  It can be described and talked about.  But the more you talk about sweetness, the less you know what sweetness is in your mouth.

Sweetness is an experience.  God is an experience.