Once upon a time there was a man who loved living in his tropical paradise. Having been born on the island where his parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents had always lived, he held in his heart a special place for the beauty of the palm trees, the white sand, the sloping mountains, the gentle climate.
This man, approaching death, told his loved ones to place some island sand into each of his hands when he died, so that he might hold on to the memory of his beloved place forever. They did, and so the man proceeded to the gates of heaven still clutching the sand. At the gate, he was warmly greeted and told that as soon as he emptied his hands of the sand, he could enter into eternal joy.
The man was crushed, for he could not let go of what he loved so much, and so he waited. He waited for a long, long time: so long that at last his hands grew weary and could not longer hold the sand. It eventually slipped through his fingers, lost forever.
At that moment, Jesus came to him, holding the man as he sobbed at the loss of his memory, and said, “Come now and enter into your rest.” With that, Jesus walked with the man through the gates of heaven, where there before them both stretched out the entirety of the man’s beloved island.
Source | as told by Tim Muldoon, The Ignatian Workout
(Loyola Press, 2004) page 5
- What are you holding on to that’s preventing you from turning your life over to Life?
- What is the “handful of sand” that you are still clinging to, blinding you to the amazing, expansive beauty of the whole beach?
Once upon a time the prophet Elijah visited a very holy rabbi. The rabbi was surprised to see Elijah in his study and even more so when Elijah told him that God was pleased with him and he could have any gift that he’d like but he had to decide right then and there. The rabbi was flustered but he blurted out, “Do you think I could have a glimpse of Paradise‘? It would make it so much easier to live here on earth where there is so much pain and injustice if I could see it just this once.” And in a flash Elijah and the rabbi were standing inside the gates of heaven. The rabbi was floored—it was beyond description. Lovely, radiance permeating everything. He was speechless.
But as he looked around, he became dismayed and said to Elijah, “There’s hardly anyone here! Don’t tell me that after all these years there are so few that made it into Paradise? Where are all the saints, the holy ones?” Elijah looked at him and responded, “Rabbi, you of all people should know—the saints aren’t in Paradise, Paradise is in the saints! Oh, they come here, some of them, but they usually opt to return to earth so they can see the glory of God everywhere. Once you know that God’s glory resides in every human being and in some more than others, well, you go looking for it everywhere.”
And in another flash, the rabbi was back in his study, alone. He stood there for a long time pondering what he had seen, heard. and learned. And then he thought to himself: What in the world do people see when they look at me? Do they see that Paradise is within me and marvel at the glory of God shining on my face‘? And then, he thought again: How do I see all the people in my life, in the world? Do I see the glory of God radiantly shining on their faces? O God, have pity on me, on us all, and give me eyes to perceive your glory among us.
Source | Megan McKenna, Praying the Rosary
(Doubleday, 2004) pages 134-135
- What do people see when they look at me? Do they see that Paradise is within you and marvel at the glory of God shining on your face‘?
- How do you see all the people in your life? Do you see the glory of God radiantly shining on their faces?
O God, on us all, and give us new eyes to see your glory in our midst.