Last week, exiting a store, I was behind a woman whose arms were full of boxed soda cans. As she was walking she suddenly stopped and bent down to pick up a coin she had spotted on the pavement. The drinks shifted, she adjusted them in her arms and was able to grab the coin with her fingers while also holding her keys. I was impressed with her dexterity but also puzzled as to why she was putting that much effort into the shiny object?
I was reminded of the story of the wise man and the city dweller who had met on a bench. The city was full of hustle and bustle and the man asked the sage what he was doing? Quietly the wise man said; “At this moment I am listening to the sound of a cricket.” The city dweller tilted his head and asked; “With all these people, the traffic, the cacophony of the city, how do you hear a solitary, small, insect?” The wise man smiled and asked the city dweller for a coin. He gave him one and the wise one flipped it into the air and it came down and bounced on the sidewalk. Immediately, many who were walking stopped to look for the coin. “See?‘ said the teacher, ‘It’s what we’re listening for, focused on, that counts.”
This morning, as we were both getting ready for the day, Beth exclaimed; “I remember!” “Remember what?” was my response. She reminded me that she had misplaced something yesterday and it dawned on her where that place might be. To be honest I had already forgotten she had lost it. However, Beth hadn’t forgotten and had been thinking about it since it turned up missing.
The situation reminded me of the three stories Jesus, the Master, told of things missing; the coin, the sheep, and the son, in the Gospel according to Saint Luke, chapter 6 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15&version=MSG). In these tales, a woman loses a coin and tears her house apart until she finds it. A shepherd loses a sheep and leaves the herd to locate it and bring it home. The last one is about a spoiled son who leaves home gets a taste of the real world and comes back to a father who is overjoyed and thankful the son found his way home.
In all of these stories the one looking never gives up until what’s lost has been found. In our culture where it seems everything is disposable, it’s good to be reminded that not everything is for short-term use. There are “gots to have” “use every means to find” “never give up looking for” things that exist, are eternal. Wisdom helps us learn and helps us find these truths.
Elephant in the Room –
I was talking with someone earlier this week about a situation he is experiencing. He is forced to make a choice between one thing and another. It’s not a choice he doesn’t want to make. As he belabored the unjustness of the decision, listing the pros and cons, complaining about the consequences of each side of the coin, I asked him a simple question. “What’s the elephant in the room?” He paused and reflected. “What do you mean?” he inquired. “Dig deeper, past the choice and the consequences, what’s the reason you’re having to make this decision?” He was quiet, then took a deep breath and answered. He had clarity. Like a man in a cloudy stream, only when his mind was still, did the water clear.
I once had a co-worker whose personality and mine didn’t click. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It’s the way it is sometimes. He was in charge of employee evaluations. When we met in his office he read over my “grades” and was surprised they were all high. “I didn’t expect this!” he exclaimed. I sat there thinking; “You didn’t expect this because I’ve never had issues with anyone or any part of this job. The problem is you don’t like me and this colors everything.” We chatted and then I left thankful for my scores but still burdened by the negative relationship.
Wisdom teaches us to make sure we deal with the thing that matters not everything else.