CAN IT GET ANY WORSE?

can-it-get-any-worse

A poor man lived with his wife and six children in a very small one-room house. They were always getting in each other’s way and there was so little space they could hardly breathe!

Finally the man could stand it no more. He talked to his wife and asked her what to do. “Go see the rabbi,” she told him, and after arguing a while, he went.

And so the poor man told the rabbi how miserable things were at home with him, his wife, and the six children all eating and living and sleeping in one room. The poor man told the rabbi, “We’re even starting to yell and fight with each other. Life couldn’t be worse.”

The rabbi thought very deeply about the poor man’s problem. Then he said, “Do exactly as I tell you and things will get better. Do you promise?”

“I promise,” the poor man said.

The rabbi then asked the poor man a strange question. “Do you own any animals?”

“Yes,” he said. “I have one cow, one goat, and some chickens.”

“Good,” the rabbi said. “When you get home, take all the animals into your house to live with you.”

The poor man was astonished to hear this advice from the rabbi, but he had promised to do exactly what the rabbi said. So he went home and took all the farm animals into the tiny one-room house.

The next day the poor man ran back to see the rabbi. “What have you done to me, Rabbi?” he cried. “It’s awful. I did what you told me and the animals are all over the house! Rabbi, help me!”

The rabbi listened and said calmly, “Now go home and take the chickens back outside.”

The poor man did as the rabbi said, but hurried back again the next day. “The chickens are gone, but Rabbi, the goat!” he moaned. “The goat is smashing up all the furniture and eating everything in sight!”

The good rabbi said, “Go home and remove the goat and may God bless you.”

So the poor man went home and took the goat outside. But he ran back again to see the rabbi, crying and wailing. “What a nightmare you have brought to my house, Rabbi! With the cow it’s like living in a stable! Can human beings live with an animal like this?”

The rabbi said sweetly, “My friend, you are right. May God bless you. Go home now and take the cow out of your house.” And the poor man went quickly home and took the cow out of the house.

The next day he came running back to the rabbi again. “O Rabbi,” he said with a big smile on his face, “we have such a good life now. The animals are all out of the house. The house is so quiet and we’ve got room to spare! What a joy!”

Source: Aaron Zerah, How the Children Became Stars:
A Family Treasury of Stories, Prayers and Blessings
from Around the World
Sorin Books
, 2000

CONSIDER THIS

  • Perspective is everything.  It is not what we see, but the way we see it. When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.
  • Most of us are just about as happy as we make up our minds to – Abraham  Lincoln
  • Think about your biggest complaint and what the rabbi would tell you if he heard it. Today, follow the rabbi’s advice.
  • Imagine you are the man in the story. At the end, what would you say to a friend who complained about how bad life was?
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THE FOUL-MOUTHED PARROT

In celebration of Thanksgiving, a genteel widow went to a pet shop to buy a parrot. She found a rather splendid one, but the manager warned her it had been raised by a sailor and had a foul mouth. The woman was confident she could reform him, so she took him home, where she soon discovered just how foul a mouth he had.

Not a person to be trifled with, the woman took that bird and locked him in a dark closet for half an hour. Then she put him back in his cage and addressed him solemnly. “Now have you learned your lesson?” The parrot was unbowed, and responded with the same curses as before.

Back to the closet he went, this time for an hour. Again he was asked, “Have you learned your lesson?” And again, undaunted, he squawked his curses. With that, the woman opened the refrigerator door and thrust the parrot inside. When at last she pulled him out, he’d turned blue, his feathers were frozen stiff, and an icicle was hanging from his beak. “Well, now,” she asked triumphantly, “Are we going to say those words anymore?”

“N-n-oo, m-m-ma’am!” said the parrot humbly and with the greatest courtesy, “B-b-but could you please tell me, ma’am, what the turkey in there did?”

Source | Dennis R. Clark, SUNDAY MORNING: Reflections on the Word
(Sheed and Ward, 1996) Cycle B
First Sunday of Advent

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Here is another version of the same story

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.

John tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to “clean up” the bird’s vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder.

John, in desperation, threw up his hands, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.

Fearing that he’d hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s outstretched arms and said, “I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behaviour.”

John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behaviour, the bird continued, “May I ask what the turkey did?”

Source | Frank Verano, All Kinds of Humor
(Xlibris, 2012) page 45

CONSIDER THIS

Some parrots are very slow learners. And so are some people – probably most of us. We are creatures of habit and it takes a lot of work, time and will power to change a habit. What does it take to shift your attitude?

 

ALWAYS THANK THE LORD

A man goes to see his rabbi. “Rabbi”, he asks, “you told us a story – something to do with praise?”  The rabbi responds, “Yes, it is thus: when you get some good news, you thank the Lord, and when you get some bad news, you praise the Lord.”  “Of course,” replies the man. “ I should have remembered. But Rabbi, how do you actually know which is the good news and which is the bad news?” The rabbi smiles. “You are wise, my son. So just to be on the safe side, always thank the Lord.”

Source | Rosamund Zander and Benjamin Zander,  The Art of Possibility, page 105

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • Today do your very best to be consciously thankful and grateful for all that blesses you, including the adverse, painful and perhaps disturbing moments.
  • “Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.” | Kahlil Gibran
  • “My task is simply the breathing of this gratitude from day to day, in simplicity, and for the rest turning my hand to whatever comes, work being part of praise.” | Thomas MertonThe Intimate Merton