THE PRAYER OF THE FROG

THE PRAYER OF THE FROG

Brother Bruno was saying his prayers, but he could hear frogs vying with each other by the intensity of their croaking. He tried to concentrate on his crucifix. In an attempt to drown out the racket he recited his prayers aloud, in an increasingly loud voice, but it was useless. The obsessive croaking of the frogs was upsetting his concentration as he was praying. He exclaimed, “Silence! I am praying!”

He was a saint and his orders inspired respect. At once, nature became silent, just as a fire goes out; and complete silence reigned over the marsh. Brother Bruno noted from his window that the toads had stopped croaking, that the herons’ beaks were closed, and the flies that remained quite still on the reeds no longer dared to buzz in a wind that had fallen silent.

Contented, he returned to his prayers. But another voice was heard an inner voice. This small voice said to him: “And what if God derived greater pleasure in the croaking of the frogs than in the chanting of your psalms?”

Shocked, the saint replied, “But what can God find so pleasurable in the croaking of a frog? And what’s more, at full volume… Why did God invent noise?”

Saint Bruno returned to his window and allowed nature to resume its course. The insects and frogs filled the silence of the night with their subdued rhythm. Bruno listened to this chant, no longer resisting it, and at once his heart beat in accord with the universe.

From that day on he prayed ceaselessly; his days passed in continuous prayer. He was constantly reminded of God by the croaking of the frogs.

Source: Nathalie Leone, Christian Stories of Wisdom,
(Black Dog & Leventhal, 2016) page 166.
First published in France under the title Contes des sages chrétiens
by Nathalie Leone, Le Seuil, 2005.

CONSIDER THIS

Stop resisting. Reframe. Try a different  angle, a minor shift in perspective.

In the new frame the croaking frog was no longer an interruption. In the moment of finally listening to the language of the world around him, Bruno learned for the first time in his life what it really meant to pray. Letting go of his quest for silence, Bruno found a deeper prayer in the noises and the sounds of the world around him.

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CAN I BUY AN HOUR OF YOUR TIME

How Much Money Do You Make, Dad?

A man came home from work late again, tired and irritated, to find his five-year-old son waiting for him at the door.

“Daddy, may I ask you a question ?”

“Yeah, sure, what is it ?” replied the man.

“Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?”

“That’s none of your business! What makes you ask such a thing?” the man said angrily.

“I just want to know.  Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?” pleaded the little boy.

“If you must know, I make $20.00 an hour.”

“Oh,” the little boy replied, head bowed. Looking up, he said, “Daddy, may I borrow ten dollars, please?”

The father was furious. “If the only reason you wanted to know how much money I make is just so you can borrow some to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed.   Think about why you’re being so selfish.  I work long, hard hours every day and don’t have time for such childish games.”

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door. The man sat down and started to get even madder about the little boy’s questioning.  How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?

After an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think he may have been a little hard on his son.  May be there was something he really needed to buy with that ten dollars and he really didn’t ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door.  “Are you asleep son?” he asked.

“No, daddy, I’m awake,” replied the boy.

“I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier,” said the man.  “It’s been long day and I took my aggravation out on you. Here’s that ten dollars you asked for.”

The little boy sat straight up, beaming. “Oh, thank you daddy!” he said. Then, reaching under his pillow, he pulled out some more crumpled-up bills.

The man, seeing that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, then looked up at the man.

“Why did you want more money if you already had some?” the father grumbled.

“Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do,” the little boy replied. “Daddy, I have twenty dollars now.  Can I buy an hour of your time?”

Source | Ernest Kurtz, Katherine Ketcham , Experiencing Spirituality:
Finding Meaning Through Storytelling (Tarcher 2014) page 98

CONSIDER THIS

To prove his love for her, he swam the deepest river, crossed the widest desert and climbed the highest mountain. She divorced him. He was never home. – Rose Sands

 

LISTENING TO BOTH SIDES

The disciple asked the master: “What should a decent and respectful human being do to understand the real-world situation? What makes a human being out-of-touch with reality?”

After a few moments of quiet stillness the master answered: “Always listen wholeheartedly to both sides and you will be enlightened; listen to only one side and you will be left in the dark.”

Source | Unknown.
This rendition is as adapted and retold by Philip Chircop sj.

CONSIDER THIS

I am told that the Chinese symbol for “listening” is made of two main characters, one depicting the ears and the other depicting the heart. To really listen one must not only use both ears but also the heart!  To really listen one be fully present, wholeheartedly, offering undivided attention to the other.

What do you hear when you listen to the one you love or to the one you consider to be your enemy? Are you engaged in active listening?

CYCLING

A Zen Teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, “Why are you riding your bicycles?”

The first student replied, “The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!” The teacher praised the student, saying, “You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do.”

The second student replied, “I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path.” The teacher commended the student, “Your eyes are open and you see the world.”

The third student replied, “When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo.” The teacher gave praise to the third student, “Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel.”

The fourth student answered, “Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings.” The teacher was pleased and said, “You are riding on the golden path of non-harming.”

The fifth student replied, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle.” The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, “I am your disciple.”

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

And you, why do you ride your bicycle? Why do you do what you do?

WHERE AM I

There’s an old story told by Reb Chanoch Henich of Alexander.

There was once a fellow who was so very forgetful. Indeed, his memory was so short that when he awoke each morning, he could not remember where he had laid his clothes the night before. Things got so bad for him that he could not fall asleep, so great was his nervousness about finding his things upon waking. One evening, however, he hit on a great idea.Taking a pencil and paper, he wrote down exactly where he had placed each item of clothing. Placing his notes on the nightstand, by his bed, he quickly feel asleep, confident that he would find everything just perfectly in the morning.

And indeed he did. He woke up, took the notes form this nightstand, and read off each item in turn: pants—on chair back; and there they were. He put them on. ‘Shirt—on bed post; and there it was. He put it on. Hat—on desk; and there it sat. He placed it on his head. In a few minutes the fellow was completely dressed. But suddenly a great dread came upon him.

‘Yes, yes,’ he said aloud. ‘Here are my pants, my shirt, and my cap; but where am I?’ He looked and looked and looked, but he could find himself nowhere! Reb Chanoch Henich paused for a moment and then concluded ‘And that is how it is with each of us as well.”

Source | Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Hasidic Tales
(Skylight Paths, 2004) page 191

PONDER AND CONSIDER

What is this story getting at? Think about it: where am I? Where are you, indeed? I’m standing here! And you’re sitting in this chair, of course! It’s obvious, isn’t it? Or is it really that obvious? At some point, especially if I keep droning on, you may look at your watch and say ‘What time is it? When does this end, anyway? I wonder what there will be to eat when this is over?’ If you can catch yourself at that very moment, then where are you? Are you really still here? Or have you actually gotten lost in time? I don’t mean time-travelling, I mean: have you suddenly looked at your watch and mentally left this moment in favor of some other, future moment?

Similarly, you could be sitting here listening to me, and suddenly you remember that you forgot to return an important email from yesterday, or you remember a fight you had with a family member last week, and you’re feeling bad about it. Again, are you really here, or are you now lost in the past? In either case, have you actually left the chair? Physically, of course not. But in every other sense—you have left this place. You’re gone. You’re missing this moment, the only moment that’s really happening!

PERFUME FOR MY WIFE

On Christmas Eve, Nathan thought it would be nice to buy his wife a little gift for the next day. Always short of money, he thought long and hard about what that present might be. Unable to decide, Nathan entered Dillard’s and in the cosmetics section he asked the girl, “How about some perfume?”  She showed him a bottle costing $150.00

“Too expensive,” muttered Nathan.

The young lady returned with a smaller bottle for $75.00.

“Oh dear,” Nathan groused, “still far too much.”

Growing rather annoyed at Nathan’s meanness, the sales girl brought out a tiny $30.00 bottle and offered it to him. Nathan became really agitated, “What I mean”, he whined, “is I’d like to see something really cheap.”

So the sales girl handed him a mirror.

Source | unknown

______________________________

A slightly different version

At the end of a long business trip, a man was searching for a gift to take home to his wife. “How about some perfume?” he asked the clerk. She showed him a bottle for 50.

“That’s too much,” he replied. So the clerk showed him a smaller bottle for 30.“That’s still quite a bit,” he complained.

Rolling her eyes, the clerk brought out a tiny bottle for 15. Again he shook his head. “What I mean is I’d like to see something real cheap.” With that the clerk handed him a mirror!

Source | Dennis R. Clark, Sunday Morning (1996).

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Does your mirror reflect scarcity or abundance?

I STILL RECOGNIZE HER

The husband knew he could not adequately care for his wife, now in the final stages of Alzheimer’s. He found a compassionate facility, and visited her every day. At noon for lunch.

Not 11:59.
Not 12:01.
Noon. Every day.

Until the day of a minor accident when he found himself in an Emergency Room, his arm being stitched by a nurse as the clock approached the noon hour.

“I need to leave,” he said ill at ease.

“Hold on,” she told him, “we’re not finished here.”

“But I must visit my wife at noon,” he said.

“Well,” she told him gently, “today you can be a little late.”

The man told the nurse the story of his wife and of the facility where she lives and how when he visits she does not even recognize him, does not know who he is. The nurse patted his hand and said, “That’s okay hon. You can relax. If she doesn’t even recognize you, there is no harm in being late this one day.”

“No,” the man insisted. “I need to go. I need to be there at noon. I know she doesn’t recognize me. But I need to be there because I still recognize her.”

Source | as told by Terry Hershey

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. |  Oprah Winfrey

Our character is what we do when we think no one is watching. | H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

For your pursuit of being the best basketball player possible, you should always assume someone is watching and act accordingly. | John Wooden

  • How would your behaviour change if you were no longer recognized?
  • What would you do if no one was watching?