In a particular desert land peaches were very scarce. Some holy people of the land had a revelation which they put down in the following code: ‘Thou shalt not eat more than two peaches a day.’ Later some found the means to convert the desert into a garden. Trees started flourishing, peaches grew in plenty, so much so that they were falling from the trees and rotting on the ground. The young people began to rebel against the law on peaches, but the holy people were determined to maintain the law as they claimed it had been revealed by God. There were some people who ate more than two peaches a day and they were feeling guilty. Others also ate more than two peaches, and they didn’t feel guilty. Those among the young people who proclaimed, ‘It is all right to eat more than two peaches a day’ were punished. (Anthony de Mello)
Source: Aurel Brys and Joseph Pulickal
We heard the Bird Sing: Interacting with Anthony de Mello
(Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, 1995) pages 30-31
Does your own code of morality stand up to reason?
Does it work in practice or does it bring more inner tension than peace?
Does it make you a less loving, a less happy person?
Where does it go against common sense, and if it does, how do you deal with that?
A carpenter and his apprentice were walking together through a large forest. And when they came across a tall, huge, gnarled, old, beautiful oak tree, the carpenter asked his apprentice: “Do you know why this tree is so tall, so huge, so gnarled, so old and beautiful?” The apprentice looked at his master and said: “No…why?”
“Well,” the carpenter said, “because it is useless. If it had been useful it would have been cut long ago and made into tables and chairs, but because it is useless it could grow so tall and so beautiful that you can sit in its shade and relax.”
Source: Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude
(Ave Maria Press, 1974, 2004), pages 26-27
The world says, “If you are not making good use of your time, you are useless.” Jesus says: “Come spend some useless time with me.” If we think about prayer in terms of its usefulness to us—what prayer will do for us, what spiritual benefits we will gain, what insights we will gain, what divine presence we may feel—God cannot easily speak to us. But if we can detach ourselves from the idea of the usefulness of prayer and the results of prayer, we become free to “waste” a precious hour with God in prayer. Gradually, we may find, our “useless” time will transform us, and everything around us will be different.
Prayer is being unbusy with God instead of being busy with other things. Prayer is primarily to do nothing useful or productive in the presence of God.
From Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit (pages 17, 18).
There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn to not judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away. The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall.
When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen. The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son said no – it was covered with green buds and full of promise. The third son disagreed, he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.
The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but one season in the tree’s life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are – and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life – can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up.
PONDER AND CONSIDER
If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, fulfillment of your fall. Don’t let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.
Source | Belief Net
There’s a great Hasidic story about the teacher Rabbi Zolman. One day his six- or seven-year-old son came bursting into the house, just sobbing, crying his heart out. He said, “Daddy, we were playing hide and seek,” …he may have addressed him in Hebrew… “Abba, Daddy, I was hiding way out in the woods, and I waited out there, behind the trees for hours. I didn’t know that the kids had decided not to play anymore. They didn’t come and tell me, and I waited out there.”
That wise and wonderful rabbi took his little boy in his arms, and he rocked him and said, “Ah, my son, that’s the way it is with God. God plays hide and seek with us. God hides behind the trees, but we have quit playing the game.”
PONDER AND CONSIDER
- You may think that the question “how prayerful are you?” would be the right question to ask when it comes to growth and transformation. But have you ever thought that perhaps an equally important question is, “how playful are you?”
- We often talk about our desire to find God as if God is lost. How about allowing ourselves to be found by God, to be called by name and embraced by the source that gives life?