what I imagine myself to be at times in my wildest dreams: totally healthy? strong as an ox? able to do whatever I want? able to make as much money as I want? go where ever I want when I want?
What is it that you want in your wildest dreams?
Here’s a story based on a sermon by Father Ron Shirley http://www.fatherron.org
“There was once a stone cutter who was very happy with his life and work. He had a wonderful family whom he loved; he made a good living cutting and preparing stone for beautiful buildings…..
“Then one day he delivered a piece of stone to a merchant. The merchant owned many lavish possessions. The stone cutter began to feel he was missing out on something in his life. “I wish I were a merchant with such fine things,” the stone cutter thought to himself.
“Amazingly, the stone cutter’s wish came to be.
“Suddenly he was a merchant who wore fancy clothes and lived in a beautiful home. His shop was filled with ornate trinkets and fine goods. The onetime stone cutter thought that life couldn’t get any better – until he saw the prince passing through town.
“Then he began thinking that to be of noble birth would be much better than being a simple merchant. And so it came to be: He found himself dressed in royal garb, sitting atop a fine stallion, parading through the village. But under the hot sun and heavy clothing, he grew weary and cranky.
“The stone cutter-merchant-prince thought that if he were the sun, he could have a profound effect on the entire universe. So he became the sun. And it was wonderful – until a cloud blocked his rays from getting to the land.
“So he wished he could be a cloud to bring rain to water the earth.
“And so he became a cloud. He found himself looming over a desolate mountain valley. He showered the area day and night, creating lakes and rivers. In time, springs of life began to sprout up on the landscape. But the mountain itself remained immovable and unchanged. It was solid and more powerful than his cloud.
“So the cloud wanted, instead to be the mountain. And so he became the mountain.
“For a while the mountain was happy to be such a powerful presence – until a young stonecutter came along and began to chisel away at him.
And the mountain wished to be a stone cutter again.
Some of us never know that moment of realization experienced by the grateful leper:
“We never realize how much we have received from God. Instead, we whine about what we do not have; we are mired in disappointment because they have more than me. We become cynical, distrustful, isolated and self-absorbed.
As the Samaritan leper discovers, as the stone cutter eventually comes to understand, each one of us has been given much by God, and realizing those gifts, that spirit of gratitude, is the beginning of faith.
Rabbi Herald S. Kushner writing in his latest book, The Lord is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the 23rd Psalm, reminds us that gratitude is a conscious and intentional perspective of looking at our lives and our world.
“Each night as I prepare for bed, I put drops in my eyes to fend off the threat of glaucoma that would rob me of my sight and take from me the pleasure of reading. Each morning at breakfast, I take a pill to control by blood pressure, and each evening at dinner I take another to lower my cholesterol level. But instead of lamenting the ailments that come with growing older, instead of wishing that I were as young and fit as I once was, I take my medicine with a prayer of thanks that modern science has found ways to help me cope with these ailments. I think of all my ancestors who didn’t live long enough to develop the complications of old age, and did not have pills to take when they did.”