COINCIDENCE OR SOMETHING ELSE?

Once upon a time an unexpected severe rainstorm erupted. Joan looking from the second story of her home, could see stalled cars caught in the flash flood.

A lone station wagon struggled through the water and headed up her street. The vehicle stopped for a moment in front of her house, then pulled into the driveway. The woman raced to the door and saw two teenage girls standing there. They were extremely frightened by the lightning, rain, and flooded roads.

One girl asked to use the woman’s telephone, explaining that she wanted to call her father to let him know she was safe. Of course, the woman let them in and prepared hot cocoa while the girls made their calls.

Meanwhile, the Edgar, the woman’s husband, paced the kitchen floor nervously. The newspaper office where he worked was flooding, and he was waiting to hear from the facility manager. His anxiety was increasing because the man had not called.

The girls completed their calls and told the woman and her husband, “My dad told us to wait out the storm here, but he was a little worried about our being in a stranger’s house. I gave him your number. I hope that was okay.”

As the woman nodded, the phone rang. Her husband answered it and returned after a few seconds.

“It was the facility manager, but he didn’t want to talk about the newspaper office.” A strange look came over the man’s face. “He wanted to thank me for keeping his daughter and her friend safe!”

Source: Heard during a conference and retold as remembered

CONSIDER THIS

For some, a coincidence  is  divine  mystery’s  way  of  remaining  anonymous.  For others, a coincidence is just a question meeting an answer in an unexpected way.

How about you? Do you believe in coincidences? How would you define a coincidence? Was it mere coincidence or divine providence that the two teenage girls randomly selected a house in which they would be safely sheltered?

THE PARABLE OF THE BIRDS

Once upon a time there was a man who looked upon Christmas as a lot of humbug. He wasn’t a Scrooge. He was a kind and decent person, generous to his family, upright in all his dealings with other men. But he didn’t believe all that stuff about Incarnation which churches proclaim at Christmas. And he was too honest to pretend that he did. “I am truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, who was a faithful churchgoer. “But I simply cannot understand this claim that God becomes man. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

On Christmas Eve his wife and children went to church for the midnight service. He declined to accompany them. “I’d feel like a hypocrite,” he explained. “I’d rather stay at home. But I’ll wait up for you.”

Shortly after his family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier. “If we must have Christmas,” he thought, “it’s nice to have a white one.” He went back to his chair by the fireside and began to read his newspaper. A few minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. It was quickly followed by another, then another.

He thought that someone must be throwing snowballs at his livingroom window. When he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the storm. They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his window. “I can’t let these poor creatures lie there and freeze,” he thought. “But how can I help them?” Then he remembered the barn where the children’s pony was stabled. It would provide a warm shelter.

He put on his coat and galoshes and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the door wide and turned on a light. But the birds didn’t come in. “Food will lure them in,” he thought. So he hurried back to the house for bread crumbs, which he sprinkled on the snow to make a trail into the barn. To his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. They scattered in every direction – except into the warm lighted barn.

“They find me a strange and terrifying creature,” he said to himself, “and I can’t seem to think of any way to let them know they can trust me. If only I could be a bird myself for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety. . . .”

Just at that moment the church bells began to ring. He stood silent for a while, listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. Then he sank to his knees in the snow. “Now I do understand,” he whispered. “Now I see why You had to do it.” 

Source | Louis Cassels,  The Parable of the Birds as told in Greg Johnson, The 25 Days of Christmas,  pages 30-31

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • They shall name him Emmanuel, which means, “God is with us.” | Matthew 1:23
  • And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. | Luke 2:7
  • For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven …  into the midst of the land … | Wisdom 18:14-15
  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us. |  John 1:14
  • Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. | Matthew 25:40

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

WHEN MORE IS NOT ENOUGH

There was once a stone cutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.

One day he passed a wealthy merchant’s house. Through the open gateway, he saw many fine possessions and important visitors. “How powerful that merchant must be!” thought the stone cutter. He became very envious and wished that he could be like the merchant.

To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever imagined, but envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. Soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. “How powerful that official is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a high official!”

Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around. It was a hot summer day, so the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. “How powerful the sun is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the sun!”

Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. “How powerful that storm cloud is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a cloud!”

Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. “How powerful it is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the wind!”

Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, feared and hated by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it – a huge, towering rock. “How powerful that rock is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a rock!”

Then he became the rock, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the hard surface, and felt himself being changed. “What could be more powerful than I, the rock?” he thought.

He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stone cutter.

SOURCE | Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

PONDER AND CONSIDER

We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time. | 
T.S. Eliot

We all have amazing power within us. We merely need to know that and daily try to gently be the best we can be, with what we have and wherever we are.

  • What strikes you about this story? What do you connect with?
  • How is discernment illustrated here?
  • Where (if at all) does God show up in this story?
  • What tools does God give us to practice true discernment? How does (or can) our discernment change when we are looking back in hindsight?