THE LEGEND OF HELIOPHER

Once upon a time there was a people that was lost in a great, dark forest. The trees stood so close together that the light of the sun could not penetrate the thickly entwined branches. There were also numerous wild animals which fell upon the people, especially the children when they wandered too far from their parents while they were playing. So everyone lived in constant fear of death and destruction, and a hopeless despair took hold of the hearts of the folk.

Continuous darkness had strangled all the light in their hearts. They could not love one another any more. They even hated and murdered one another in their rage. Yet they were forced to remain together, for it was impossible for any single man to defend himself against the attacks of the wild beasts. They had lost all hope of ever finding their way out of the forest. Many of the young people refused to believe in the light they had never seen, and they mocked their elders, when, with a last weak light gleaming in their dim eyes, they recounted tales of the festive, sunny days of their youth.

Among the people, however, there was a young man called Heliopher. He was very much alone, grieving over the misery of his people and seeking a way of salvation. He bore in his heart an endless longing for light and love in the desolation which surrounded him. Heliopher left his people to seek the sun. For many months and years he wandered through the dangers of the forest and of his own soul, and often, very often, nearly lost all hope and confidence. But Heliopher bravely withstood his enemies, whether within himself or around him, and at last he reached the edge of the forest and saw the light of the sun. In terrible amazement he fell into a swoon, and when he awoke he saw in the twilight that he was watched over in his slumber by beautiful people. In the green meadows stood the simple huts of the sun-people, and Heliopher lived with them in peace and endless joy as the most beloved amongst them.

Then Heliopher went back to the forest to seek his people. “Come, brothers and sisters,” he said to them, “I will lead you to the light.” At this there was murmuring and frowning, wavering and hesitation, wonder and questioning, incredulous laughter, and finally a jubilant “Yes!” And then, at last, the longed-for departure.

Then the light of the sun shone in Heliopher’s eyes, but the way was long and difficult, and demanded much suffering and sacrifice, and murmuring arose among the people. Some spoke and said, “Let us murder him, the betrayer of the people!” And the dark glow of hatred was in their eyes. Others were wiser and said, “No! Let us judge him in the presence of all, for it is dangerous to give the people a martyr.” And Heliopher spoke to his people, and talked about light and love. But the wise ones answered, “You lie! There is no light, there is no sun, there is no love. Let us be darker than the forest and more cruel than the wild beasts. Then we shall be masters of the forest!”

Heliopher answered in great pain, “O believe not, ye wise men, that ye can be victorious over darkness by being more dark, that ye can overcome the wild beasts by being more beastly. Only love is stronger. Only the light of the sun can drive away darkness.”

“Be silent!” said the wise men. “There is no light, there is no sun!”

And the people shouted, flinging their arms about in raging despair, “There is no light, there is no sun!”

But Heliopher called out, “Follow me!” And with his nails he tore open his breast, and his heart burned with love, and it glowed and shed its beams through the dark forest. Then he took it in both hands, held it high over his head, and strode forth in front of the people.

In reverent wonder and silence the multitude followed the burning heart.

And the people went in jubilation toward the sun and danced in its loving rays, and they loved one another. But Heliopher knelt down at the edge of the forest, and with the last strength of his outstretched arms he held up his loving, pulsing heart to the light of heaven, and gave his last smile to his people.

Source: First published in Plough’s Winter 1938 issue
based on Maxim Gorky’s story
“The Flaming Heart of Danko.”

CONSIDER THIS

“I wish each of us Easter eyes, able to perceive in death, life; in guilt, forgiveness; in separation, unity; in wounds, glory; in the human, God; in God, the human; and in the I, the You.” – Bishop Klaus Hemmerle

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LACK OF RESPECT

A stranger, exuding joy,  went into church one day, a church that was not his own.  He mingled about with the parishioners patting them on the back, talking loudly and laughing in a gesture of friendship.  The parishioners were shocked with his familiarity and horrified at his “lack of respect” for a place of worship.  He was asked to leave.

On the doorstep, he was approached by God who said, “Cheer up, fella, I’ve been trying to get into that church for years!”

Source: Dare to Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord! by Erma Bombeck
in Ocala Star-Banner, February 26, 1970.| 7A

CONSIDER THIS

  • I cannot imagine a Christian who does not know how to smile. May we joyfully witness to our faith. —Pope Francis, February 4th, 2014
  • Evangelization in our time will only take place as the result of contagious joy. —Pope Francis, Message for the 29th World Youth Day, 21st January 2014
  • There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.  —Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, #6
  • An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! —Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, #10

ARE YOU SEARCHING IN THE WRONG PLACE?

A famous Sufi mystic, Rabiya, was searching for something on the street outside her small hut. The sun was setting and darkness was descending, as few people gathered around her. “What have you lost? What are you searching for?  Perhaps we can help,” they said to Rabiya.

Rabiya said, “I have lost my needle.”

One amongst the people said, “Well, the sun is setting now and it will be very difficult to find the needle.  Where has it fallen?  That’ll help us narrow down the area on this big road.  If we know the exact place, it will be easier to find it.”

Rabiya told them, “It is better not to ask me that question — because, actually, it has not fallen on the road at all.  It has fallen inside my house.”

Everyone started giggling as if she was joking.  Then a skeptic says out loud, “We always knew that you were a little insane!  If the needle has fallen inside the house, then why are you searching for it on the road?”

“For a very simple reason: inside the house there is no light and on the outside a little light is still there,” Rabiya replied.

The people laughed and started dispersing.  Rabiya called them back and said, “Listen! That’s exactly what you are doing: I was just following your example. You go on seeking bliss in the outside world without asking the most fundamental question: where exactly have I lost it?”

After a pause, she continues, “You have lost it inside, and yet you are looking for it on the outside for the very same reason — your senses are outward bound, your ears hear sounds on the outside, your hands touch things on the outside.  That’s the reason why you are searching outside. For a very long time, I was also just searching on the outside.  But the day I searched inwards, I was surprised.  That is where I lost it and that is the only place it can be found.”

Source | Osho, Joy: The Happiness that Comes from Within
(St. Martin’s Griffin, 2008) pages 10-11
CONSIDER THIS
Distracted by fleeting, external excitements we forget to tap into the fresh, secret waters deep within, where the Source of life and love and joy is waiting to be found.
Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. | Matthew 6:6 (nrsv)
Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. | Matthew 6:6 (the message)

STOP CHASING YOUR TAIL

A big cat saw a little cat chasing its tail and asked, “Why are you chasing your tail so?”

Said the kitten, “I have learned that the best thing for a cat is happiness, and that happiness is in my tail. Therefore, I am chasing it: and when I catch it, I shall have happiness.”

Said the old cat, “My son, I, too, have paid attention to the problems of the universe. I too, have judged that happiness is in my tail But, I have noticed that whenever I chase after it, it keeps running away from me, and when I go about my business, it just seems to come after me wherever I go.”

Source | From C.L. James, “On Happiness,”
in Caesar Johnson, To See a World in a Grain of Sand
(Norwalk, Conn.: The C.B. Gibson Co., 1972)

______________________________

Here’s a slightly different version as told my Wayne Dyer

There was an old wise cat and a small kitten in an alleyway. The old cat saw the kitten chasing its tail and asked, “Why are you chasing your tail?”

To it the kitten replied, “I’ve been attending cat philosophy school and I have learned that the most important thing for a cat is happiness, and that happiness is located in my tail. Therefore, I am chasing it: and when I catch it, I shall have happiness forever.”

Laughing, the wise old cat replied, “My son, I wasn’t lucky enough to go to cat philosophy school, but as I’ve gone through life, I too have realized that the most important thing for a cat is happiness, and indeed that it is located in my tail.  The difference I’ve found though is that whenever I chase after it, it keeps running away from me, but when I go about my business and live my life, it just seems to follow after me wherever I go.” 

Source | Wayne DyerYour Erroneous Zones
(William Morrow Paperbacks; 1st HarperPerennial ed edition, 2001) page 68.

 CONSIDER THIS

Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. | Anonymous although often wrongly attributed to both Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau.

THE CHRISTMAS SCALE

My mama told me something when I was growing up that has for ever change my life. She played the piano at our little church at third and pine street for thirty seven years. She tried to teach me to play the piano, but I wasn’t very good. She would teach me the names of the notes, what a major key is, what a minor key is.  She tried to teach me musical theory but I was just bored.

Then one day she told me that the best news in the world is found by playing a simple scale on the piano. I had no idea what she meant. So she told me, “Play an eight note scale.” So I did. (Playing notes going up the scale C D E F G A B C sounds like “do re me fa sol la si do”)

I said, “How is that good news?”

She said I played it incorrectly and that I needed to play it the other way. So I did. (Playing notes going down the scale “do si la sol fa mi re do.”)

Again, I said, “How is that good news?”

She said that I played it the right way, but I needed to add the pauses.

“The pauses?”

“The pauses. Add them on the first, second, fourth, sixth, seventh and last note.”

Now I was frustrated and said, “How can eight notes with random pauses be the best news in the world?” Then I got up, walked away and went outside.  Frankly I didn’t care what she was talking about.  I didn’t like playing the piano anyway.

Well, years later my mama got sick and passed away.  As I was thinking about her I remembered what she told me about the piano.

Not only that, I still remembered the notes she told me to pause on : the first, second, fourth, sixth, seventh and last note. So I sat down at her piano and played the scale with the pauses. (With pauses plays the song “Joy to the World, the Lord is come.”)

And that’s when I realized the good news she was talking about.

Source | Transcript of The Christmas Scale by IgniterMedia.com

CONSIDER THIS

The message hasn’t changed. That joy is still there waiting to be experienced each time we awake from our slumber and play the right notes with the right pauses, living our ordinary lives in extraordinary ways, that is, with gentility and grace, presence and wakefulness.

ON PERFECT JOY

One winter day St. Francis was coming to St. Mary of the Angels from Perugia with Brother Leo, and the bitter cold made them suffer keenly. St. Francis called to Brother Leo, who was walking a bit ahead of him, and he said: “Brother Leo, even if the Friars Minor in every country give a great example of holiness and integrity and good edification, nevertheless write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that.”

And when he had walked on a bit, St. Francis called him again, saying: “Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor gives sight to the blind, heals the paralyzed, drives out devils, gives hearing back to the deaf, makes the lame walk, and restores speech to the dumb, and what is still more, brings back to life a man who has been dead four days, write that perfect joy is not in that.”

And going on a bit, St. Francis cried out again in a strong voice: “Brother Leo, if a Friar Minor knew all languages and all sciences and Scripture, if he also knew bow to prophesy and to reveal not only the future but also the secrets of the consciences and minds of others, write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that.”

And as they walked on, after a while St. Francis called again forcefully: ‘Brother Leo, Little Lamb of God, even if a Friar minor could speak with the voice of an angel, and knew the courses of the stars and the powers of herbs, and knew all about the treasures in the earth, and if be knew the qualities of birds and fishes, animals, humans, roots, trees, rocks, and waters, write down and note carefully that true joy is not in that.”

And going on a bit farther, St. Francis called again strongly: “Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor could preach so well that he should convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that perfect joy is not there.”

Now when he had been talking this way for a distance of two miles, Brother Leo in great amazement asked him: “Father, I beg you in God’s name to tell me where perfect joy is.”

And St. Francis replied; “When we come to St. Mary of the Angels, soaked by the rain and frozen by the cold, all soiled with mud and suffering from hunger, and we ring at the gate of the Place and the brother porter comes and says angrily: ‘Who are you?’ And we say: ‘We are two of your brothers.’ And he contradicts us, saying: ‘You are not telling the truth. Rather you are two rascals who go around deceiving people and stealing what they give to the poor. Go away’ And he does not open for us, but makes us stand outside in the snow and rain, cold and hungry, until night falls – then if we endure all those insults and cruel rebuffs patiently, without being troubled and without complaining, and if we reflect humbly and charitably that that porter really knows us and that God makes him speak against us, oh, Brother Leo, write that perfect joy is there!

‘And if we continue to knock, and the porter comes out in anger, and drives us away with curses and hard blows like bothersome scoundrels, saying; ‘Get away from here, you dirty thieves – go to the hospital! Who do you think you are? You certainly won’t eat or sleep here’ – and if we bear it patiently and take the insults with joy and love in our hearts, Oh, Brother Leo, write that that is perfect joy!

And if later, suffering intensely from hunger and the painful cold, with night falling, we still knock and call, and crying loudly beg them to open for us and let us come in for the love of God, and he grows still more angry and says: ‘Those fellows are bold and shameless ruffians. I’ll give them what they deserve.’  And he comes out with a knotty club, and grasping us by the cowl throws us onto the ground, rolling us in the mud and snow, and beats us with that club so much that he covers our bodies with wounds – if we endure all those evils and insults and blows with joy and patience, reflecting that we must accept and bear the sufferings of the Blessed Christ patiently for love of Him, oh, Brother Leo, write: that is perfect joy!

‘And now hear the conclusion, Brother Leo. Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to His friends is that of conquering oneself and willingly enduring sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships for the love of Christ. For we cannot glory in all those other marvelous gifts of God, as they are not ours but God’s, as the Apostle says: ‘What have you that you have not received?’ But we can glory in the cross of tribulations and afflictions, because that is ours, and so the Apostle says: ‘I will not glory save in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.'”

Source | Brother Ugolino, The Little Flowers of St Francis of Assisi, pages 17-18

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • What is perfect joy for you?
  • Where and how do sufferings, insults and persecution fit in?

HAPPINESS IS AN ATTITUDE

The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.

Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window.

“I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room …. just wait.”

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied.

“Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged … it’s how I arrange my mind.

I already decided to love it … It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away … just for this time in my life.”

Source | Unknown Author
I came across this story in Sean Conley, Karen Conley, Amazing Yoga, pages 65-66

PONDER AND CONSIDER
Growing older, and hopefully wiser, is like a bank account. You withdraw from it what you have put in. As you continue to deposit in the bank account of memories remember these simple propositions for a peaceful and joyful life:

  • Free your heart from hatred.
  • Free your mind from worries.
  • Live simply.
  • Give more.
  • Expect less.