A DISCONCERTING REAPPEARANCE

Once upon a time a young man who had been reported killed in action came home from a prisoner of war camp. His family and his buddies and even his girlfriend had mourned him as dead and then more or less got over their grief.

His sudden reappearance was disconcerting, to say the least. They had all loved him, but they had in effect written him out of their lives. His girlfriend was engaged to marry someone else. Moreover, he didn’t seem like the boy who had gone off to war. He was thin and haggard and haunted.

However, he was now mature, self-possessed, and, astonishingly, happy. He hadn’t smiled much as a kid and rarely joked. Now he was witty and ebullient all the time. A quiet kid had become an outgoing adult man. He didn’t fit in the patterns of relationships he had left behind. Quite the contrary, his happiness and maturity were unsettling. He congratulated his former girlfriend on her coming marriage and shook hands cordially with the fiancé. There’s something wrong with him, everyone said. His family went to the priest. There sure is, the priest said – he has risen from the dead and now acts like a saint.

Source: Andrew M. Greeley, April 20, 2003
www.agreeley.com

CONSIDER THIS

  • “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26
  • “What requires courage is being willing to disappoint and upset all those friends and family members who want us to stay the way we are, because they want to stay the way they are. It’s being prepared to redefine success and failure, and to become a fool if need be. At heart it’s being willing to receive information from the darkness within, so there can be less of us that is buried, and more of us resurrected.”  -David Weale

LETTING GUILT GO

Once upon a time there were three men. Each man had two sacks, one tied in front of his neck and the other tied on his back. When the first man was asked what was in his sacks, he said, “In the sack on my back are all the good things friends and family have done. That way they’re hidden from view. In the front sack are all the bad things that have happened to me. Every now and then I stop, open the front sack, take the things out, examine them, and think about them.” Because he stopped so much to concentrate on all the bad stuff, he really didn’t make much progress in life.

The second man was asked about his sacks. He replied, “In the front sack are all the good things I’ve done. I like to see them, so quite often I take them out to show them off to people. The sack in the back? I keep all my mistakes in there and carry them all the time. Sure they’re heavy. They slow me down, but you know, for some reason I can’t put them down.”

When the third man was asked about his sacks, he answered, “The sack in front is great. There I keep all the positive thoughts I have about people, all the blessings I’ve experienced, all the great things other people have done for me. The weight isn’t a problem. The sack is like sails of a ship. It keeps me going forward.

“The sack on my back is empty. There’s nothing in it. I cut a big hole in its bottom. In there I put all the bad things that I can think about myself or hear about others. They go in one end and out the other, so I’m not carrying around any extra weight at all.”

Source | H. Norman Wright, The Perfect Catch
(Bethany House, 2000) pages 28-29

PONDER AND CONSIDER

What are you carrying in your sacks as you journey through life?

Reread the story about the three men and their sacks. With whom do you identify the most?

  • The one who forgets what is good in his life and remembers all the bad things that have happened to him?
  • The one who has the tendency to remind others about the good he has been doing, while hiding the mistakes he has made, not really letting those mistakes go?
  • The one who remembers all the blessings, while acknowledging and letting go of negativity and judgment toward self and others?

DEW DROP

As the sun rose, a dew drop became aware of its surroundings. There it sat on a leaf, catching the sunlight and throwing it back out. Proud of its simple beauty, it was very content. Around it were other dew drops, some on the same leaf and some on other leaves round about. The dew drop was sure that it was the best, the most special dew drop of them all.

Ah, it was good to be a dew drop.

The wind rose and the plant began to shake, tipping the leaf. Terror gripped the dew drop as gravity pulled it towards the edge of the leaf, towards the unknown. Why? Why was this happening? Things were comfortable. Things were safe. Why did they have to change? Why? Why?

The dew drop reached the edge of the leaf. It was terrified, certain that it would be smashed into a thousand pieces below, sure that this was the end. The day had only just begun and the end had come so quickly. It seemed so unfair. It seemed so meaningless. It tried desperately to do whatever it could to cling to the leaf, but it was no use.

Finally, it let go, surrendering to the pull of gravity. Down, down it fell. Below there seemed to be a mirror. A reflection of itself seemed to be coming up to meet the dew drop. Closer and closer they came together until finally …

And then the fear transformed into deep joy as the tiny dew drop merged with the vastness that was the pond. Now the dew drop was no more, but it was not destroyed.

It had become one with the whole.

Source | Peter Hughes

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • What would happen if you stop clinging to your little story and allow yourself to be embraced by the larger story of which we are all a part?
  • Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf. | Rabindranath Tagore

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”?