Once when Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa was speaking at General Theological Seminary in New York City, one of the students sitting in the audience nudged the dean, who was sitting next to him, and whispered, “Desmond Tutu is a holy man.” The dean in response asked, “How do you really know this?” To which the young man quickly replied, “I know that Desmond Tutu is holy because when I’m with him I feel holy.”
Source: Robert Wicks, The Resilient Clinician
(Oxford University Press, 2007) pages 4-5
- Can the same be said of us by those who we encounter in our daily lives?
- What do people experience when they are with us? Do they experience a sense of respectful space where they can rest their burdens, anger, questions, projections, stress, anxiety, and wonder?
- Or, do they feel our sense of exhaustion, need to always be right or in control, or even our desire to be viewed as wise, attractive, witty, or helpful?
Once upon a time there was a priest who spent part of each night making sandwiches for the homeless. He travelled around the poorer parts of the city and distribute them. Even though his day was already full, this late night activity didn’t overwhelm him. It actually made him happy. he didn’t do it out of guilt, duty or any external pressure. He shared freely and openly in a way that made a difference for him, Even when the street people rebuffed his offer of food, he didn’t feel rejected or angry, because he wasn’t doing it for the reward or acceptance or appreciation.
The media found out about him and printed a story about his work. Instantly his reputation grew and he became a minor celebrity. The public, even his fellow priests, started sending him money to support his ministry. Much to their surprise he sent back the money to everyone with a one-line note that said: “Make your own damn sandwich!”
Source | based on a story told in Robert Wicks, Riding the Dragon
(Sorin Books, 2013) page 34
- What is easier, to write a check or to make a sandwich?
- What is most gospel-like, to write a check or to make a sandwich and give it to the hungry?
- What propels your acts of kindness and compassion? Guilt? Duty? External pressures? Fear of rejection? Desire to be liked and lauded? Or do you do what you do out of pure desire and delight?
Here is a letter written by a first-year college student to her worried father during the middle of her second semester. The story delightfully points out how easy it is to lose perspective.
Everything is going well here at college this semester, so you can stop worrying. I am very, very happy now. . . you would love Ichabod. He is a wonderful, wonderful man and our first three months of marriage have been blissful.
And more good news Dad. The drug rehab program we are both in just told us that the twins that are due soon will not be addicted at birth.
Having read this, her father then turned the page with trepidation. On the other side of the note it said:
Now, Dad, there actually is no Ichabod. I’m not married nor pregnant. And I haven’t ever abused drugs. But I did get a “D” in chemistry, so keep things in perspective!
Source | Robert Wicks, Bounce: Living the Resilient Life
(Oxford University Press, 2010) page 105
- Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up but a comedy in long shot. | Charlie Chaplin
- We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are. | The Talmud
- Whether you see a staircase as heading up or down depends on where you are standing. | Angel Kyodo Williams
- I cannot judge my work while I am doing it. I have to do as painters do, stand back and view it from a distance, but not too great a distance. | Blaise Pascal