CAN IT GET ANY WORSE?

can-it-get-any-worse

A poor man lived with his wife and six children in a very small one-room house. They were always getting in each other’s way and there was so little space they could hardly breathe!

Finally the man could stand it no more. He talked to his wife and asked her what to do. “Go see the rabbi,” she told him, and after arguing a while, he went.

And so the poor man told the rabbi how miserable things were at home with him, his wife, and the six children all eating and living and sleeping in one room. The poor man told the rabbi, “We’re even starting to yell and fight with each other. Life couldn’t be worse.”

The rabbi thought very deeply about the poor man’s problem. Then he said, “Do exactly as I tell you and things will get better. Do you promise?”

“I promise,” the poor man said.

The rabbi then asked the poor man a strange question. “Do you own any animals?”

“Yes,” he said. “I have one cow, one goat, and some chickens.”

“Good,” the rabbi said. “When you get home, take all the animals into your house to live with you.”

The poor man was astonished to hear this advice from the rabbi, but he had promised to do exactly what the rabbi said. So he went home and took all the farm animals into the tiny one-room house.

The next day the poor man ran back to see the rabbi. “What have you done to me, Rabbi?” he cried. “It’s awful. I did what you told me and the animals are all over the house! Rabbi, help me!”

The rabbi listened and said calmly, “Now go home and take the chickens back outside.”

The poor man did as the rabbi said, but hurried back again the next day. “The chickens are gone, but Rabbi, the goat!” he moaned. “The goat is smashing up all the furniture and eating everything in sight!”

The good rabbi said, “Go home and remove the goat and may God bless you.”

So the poor man went home and took the goat outside. But he ran back again to see the rabbi, crying and wailing. “What a nightmare you have brought to my house, Rabbi! With the cow it’s like living in a stable! Can human beings live with an animal like this?”

The rabbi said sweetly, “My friend, you are right. May God bless you. Go home now and take the cow out of your house.” And the poor man went quickly home and took the cow out of the house.

The next day he came running back to the rabbi again. “O Rabbi,” he said with a big smile on his face, “we have such a good life now. The animals are all out of the house. The house is so quiet and we’ve got room to spare! What a joy!”

Source: Aaron Zerah, How the Children Became Stars:
A Family Treasury of Stories, Prayers and Blessings
from Around the World
Sorin Books
, 2000

CONSIDER THIS

  • Perspective is everything.  It is not what we see, but the way we see it. When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.
  • Most of us are just about as happy as we make up our minds to – Abraham  Lincoln
  • Think about your biggest complaint and what the rabbi would tell you if he heard it. Today, follow the rabbi’s advice.
  • Imagine you are the man in the story. At the end, what would you say to a friend who complained about how bad life was?
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HOUSING HOME

Mother and Rosie – her four-year old daughter – were still living in a motel as part of an unexpected and unplanned move. They were now, as it were, in limbo and in-between houses. Mother, feeling sad and bad about staying in a motel for such a long time, told Rosie, “I’m so sorry we don’t have a home.”

Rosie, with a twinkle in her eye, and without missing a beat said, “mama, we do have a home, but we haven’t yet found a house to put it in.”

Source: Unknown. Retold as I remember it

CONSIDER THIS

“Home’s where you go when you run out of homes.” |  John le Carré, The Honourable Schoolboy (Penguin Canada, 2006)

LAUGHTER IN THE WALLS

I pass a lot of houses on my way home; some pretty, some inviting. But my heart skips a beat when I see my house nestled against the hill. I’m especially proud of the way it looks because I drew the plans myself. It started out large enough for us. I even had a study, in which two teenage boys now reside! It had a guest room, but my girl and nine dolls are permanent guests there now. It had a room for Peg, who hoped to turn it into her sewing room. But two boys swinging on the Dutch door have claimed that room. Right now it appears I’m not much of an architect. But it’ll get larger again.

One by one they’ll go away to college, work, the service, their own homes. Then there’ll be room: a guest room, a sewing room, a study, just for the two of us. But it won’t be empty. Every corner, room, nick in the coffee table will be full of memories. Memories of picnics, Christmases, birthdays, bedside vigils…going barefoot, vacations, cats, dogs, black eyes…graduations, first dates, arguments, ball games…and a thousand other things that fill the lives of those who rear five kids.

And Peg and I will sit quietly by the fire and listen to the laughter in the walls.

Source | Bob Benson, Laughter in the Walls
(Nashville: Impact Books, 1969)

CONSIDER THIS 

Childhood and youth evaporate swiftly. So fill them with loving, wonderful, sustaining memories.

THE DUCKLING

The Sufi saint Shams of Tabriz tells the following story about himself:

I have been considered a misfit since my childhood. No one seemed to understand me. My own father once said to me, “You are not mad enough to be put in a madhouse, and not withdrawn enough to be put in a monastery. I don’t know what to do with you.”

I replied, “A duck’s egg was once put under a hen. When the egg hatched the duckling walked about with the mother hen until they came to a pond. The duckling went straight into the water. The hen stayed clucking anxiously on land. Now, dear father, I have walked into the ocean and find in it my home. You can hardly blame me if you choose to stay on the shore.”

Anthony De Mello, SJ | Song of the Bird

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • Are you living up to your original vocation, your deepest call, that is?
  • Are you living up to your potential or perhaps leading a mediocre, non-committed kind of life?
  • Are you satisfied with simply staying on the shore or bold enough to risk entering the waters?