THE UPS AND DOWNS OF HORSE RIDING

A circuit-riding pastor was galloping down a road to get to church on time. Suddenly his horse stumbled and pitched him to the ground. In the dirt with a broken leg, the pastor called out, “All you saints in heaven, help me get up on my horse!”

Then with superhuman effort, he leaped onto the horse’s back and fell off the other side. Once again, he called to heaven, “All right, just half of you this time.”

Source | David M. Varner, Sunday Funnies to Tickle the Soul
(Xulon Press, 2010) page 44

 

CONSIDER THIS

Would you consider the pastor a faithful person, well-seasoned in the art of prayer? After all, here’s a guy who in the middle of great adversity doesn’t fade, but with confidence calls out. And keeps calling out … with a sense of humour!

Imagine you found yourself in the same situation, what would you have done?

PARADISE IS IN YOU

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

CONSIDER THIS

  • 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.

THE BEST BOOKS

A seeker came to the teacher, asking, “I am interested in the spiritual quest – what books would you suggest I read?’

The teacher smiled and pointed to his empty bookshelves, saying, ‘The best books are people.’

Wishing to justify himself, the seeker said, ‘Surely, a spiritual man like yourself would recommend that I read the Bible. Which translation of the Bible would you suggest?’

The teacher smiled faintly and replied, ‘The best translation of the Bible is a saint!’”

Source | Edward Hays, The Ladder: Parable-Stories of Ascension and Descension
(Forest of Peace Pub., 1999) page 76

PONDER AND CONSIDER

As a general rule, I would say that human beings never behave more badly toward one another than when they believe they are protecting God. In the words of Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas, “People of the Book risk putting the book above people.” — Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith

  • What kind of book are you to the people around you?
  • How would you define a saint?

THE PRECIOUSNESS OF LIFE

Thornton Wilder‘s play Our Town, was written about events that occurred in the very early years of the 20th century in a small town called Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. The main character of the story is named Emily. The story deals with the preciousness of time and the gift of life, the meaning of which we often miss.

Emily dies, and in a conversation she has with the saints departed, she asks to go back to Grover’s Corner for one day. She chooses her twelfth birthday.

She goes back and watches what happens in the kitchen, the living room, the dining room, and outside the house. She notices that people, even the people in her immediate family, don’t seem to notice one another. They go about their busy lives preoccupied. She finally cries out, as if her mother might hear her, “Oh, Mama, Mama, just look at me, look at me for a minute, as though you really see me, just for a moment now, while we’re all together. Mama, let’s be happy. Let’s look at one another and really see each other.” But their life goes on, preoccupied and fleeting.

Emily turns to the stage manager, the character off to the side, who plays a very important role, and she says, “Life goes so fast. We don’t even have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize this while I was living. We never noticed.”

At the end, almost broken-hearted, she asks to be taken back to heaven.

As she’s just about to leave, she looks back, over her shoulder, and she says, “Goodbye world, good-bye Grover’s Corner, good-bye Mama and Papa, good-bye good taste of coffee, good-bye new ironed dresses and clocks ticking and hot baths, good-bye sleeping and waking. Oh life, oh life, you’re too wonderful. Why don’t we realize?” She then turns to the stage manager and says, “Does anybody do it? Does anybody really notice?” The stage manager answers, “Some do, poets, saints, artists, but very few.”

Source | Thornton WilderOur Town

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Many go through life stuck in a rut, numbed and hypnotized by boredom, distracted, preoccupied, anxious and worried about too many things. Let the poet, the saint, and the artist in you to awake and see, awake and notice, awake and really pay attention.