If you live in Snowmass Village, you are well aware of it. If you reside largely or sometimes in other spots, you may or may not be aware that the last week or so here has been quite snowy. Snowy and very cold. The yellow Aspen leaves seemed to have been caught off guard by the chilly cloudy weather as the leaves went from bright colors immediately to brown and the ground.
It has been said that winter is snow plow season and summer is orange cone season (referring to the road construction that happens during our short warm time of year). But around the Village in the last week or so, something else has happened relatively rapidly. Snow plow companies have lined countless driveways and parking areas with snow plow sticks which mark where the boundaries are between asphalt and dirt, road and curb, trees and plowable areas. I guess some are expecting a snowy winter as some of the sticks I have seen are over 10 feet tall.
Marking these boundaries is important. Most of us have seen what happens when there are no such boundaries, especially when the snow melts. Plantings are trashed, parking lot spaces are dug up, some homeowners are upset, and often there is just a general mess left to clean up. I think the women and men around here who plow do an amazing job and I realize there is no way they can always stay precisely within the markers. But that said, I can only imagine what would happen if there were no boundary sticks or markers.
While snow plow boundaries are helpful where it snows a lot, there are other boundaries that are essential regardless of where we live. This other kind of boundary is all about knowing where one’s life ends and another begins. All about having a clear picture as to what is on my side of the fence and what is on yours.
Dr. Henry Cloud has written a book, I believe, everyone should read and embrace. The book is entitled “Boundaries” and within it boundaries are defined as “what is me and what is not me.” Boundaries help us take responsibility for those things that are “on my side of the fence” and to let go of those things for which we are not responsible.
When we have clear boundaries we are more resilient in life, get a lot more done, are more effective in those areas for which we are accountable, and live with a greater capacity to be helpful to others. When we don’t have clear boundaries, we end up exhausted, living in a cycle of never being able to do enough, we displace responsibility for our own lives onto others, we experience guilt and low self-esteem, and we can end up feeling like a driveway that has been plowed over.
As we move into the winter months, I invite you to join me in envisioning snow plow markers. To then envision your own life and what your boundaries are. Do you have them and know what they are? Are there some areas in which you need greater boundaries? Are there other areas in which you need to reinforce the boundaries that are already present?
Without a doubt, God calls us to live with boundaries. And yes, God calls us to cross our boundaries when another person is in a place of being incapable of caring for themselves, by implementing a new set of boundaries that will enable us to care in a loving way that keeps us whole.
I invite you, once again, to join me in exploring our personal boundaries and where we may need some work putting them in place for any winter season of life ahead.
Life’s simple pleasures. I have several apps on my phone that are space related. One lets me know when certain planets or stars will be visible along with various meteor showers. Another alerts me to significant events happening in space. While yet another sends me a text when the International Space Station (ISS) is overhead.
The ISS is truly an amazing project. In my view, it is nothing but positive. A variety of nations partnered in getting it built and continue to work together on missions across political ideologies. Well over 200 folks from different countries have been on board conducting invaluable research.
The other night I received an alert that the ISS would be brightly visible for nearly 7 minutes. At the right time, I headed outside, looked skyward, and sure enough, the ISS moved in a straight line directly above me. The space station goes around the earth every 90 minutes or so at a speed of roughly 18,000 mph. As I watched the ISS, which is roughly the size of a football field on earth, comments from astronauts over the years who have been in space and looked back toward the earth flooded my mind.
Neil Armstrong once said, “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant, I felt very small.” And Roger Chaffee stated, “the world itself looks cleaner and so much more beautiful. Maybe we can make it that way – the way God intended it to be – by giving everybody a new perspective from out in space.
The philosopher Frank White came up with a phrase that describes what happens to people when they see the earth and other objects from space. That term, “The Overview Effect.” White defines this effect as “‘a cognitive shift in awareness’ linked to ‘the experience of seeing firsthand the reality that the Earth is in space.’”
With this in mind, as I gazed skyward for a few short moments the other evening, I thought not only of the perspectives that astronauts have had while looking at the Earth from afar, but I wondered what God must think about the Earth he created.
I imagined God feels joy for all that is right and wonderful on this tiny blue dot as there is much to celebrate and for which to be thankful. But I also believe God must feel deep despair that humankind has yet to learn to live in peace. Has yet to embrace the beauty of the earth and the precious nature of every human life. Has yet to live together in unity along with deep humility and reverence toward our Creator. Has yet to live in the way in which God intends for us to live.
If only we as human beings could gain a “space” perspective of ourselves. Perhaps, in part, this is why God came to live among us, to give us at least a glimpse of how things should be on this small object in the universe. What Jesus’ life and teachings offer us, if we pay attention, is as dramatic and perspective altering as what astronauts experience in space. Jesus certainly gave us a glimpse of how things should be. And the good news is that day by day, we each can make a decision to share the glimpse Jesus gave us with others.
We all have perspectives, ways of viewing things, and habits of how we approach the vicissitudes of living. Once in a while, as the ISS moves across the sky, perhaps we each would do well to remember that there is more than one way to see things and that every one of us could use a “space” perspective now and then. When we do so, it is then we might just see things from God’s eyes.
This last Sunday I began a two part series on the Lord’s Prayer. This Sunday I will wrap up and summarize what was covered this last week. There is a word, I believe, that applies to the prayer. That word, radical. The word radical likely raises all kinds of images for us, whether positive or negative. But the word is a great word when it comes to our walk with Jesus.
One definition I found defines radical as “relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something.” With this definition in mind, I would hope we find both our relationship with Jesus and the Lord’s Prayer radical. The more seriously we take both, the more we will find the fundamental nature of who we are dramatically affected.
Speaking of radical, in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says, “Your Kingdom come.” It is here the prayer begins to get truly radical and upending, especially if we pay attention to what we are really praying and asking for. To get into this, we need a definition of God’s Kingdom.
God’s Kingdom is a place and time when everything is as it should be. It is where and when love, wonder, kindness, compassion, humility, joy, service, selflessness and justice prevail. It is when there is no illness or heartache. It is where relationships are characterized by mercy and forgiveness. Simply put, the Kingdom of God is where and when everything is as God wants it to be.
In essence when we are praying for God’s Kingdom to come, we are praying for heaven on earth. Think of everything that is right in the world. Such things reflect something of what God’s Kingdom looks like. Think of everything that is wrong. That sheds light on the gap between where we are and how God wants things to be.
Several writers have noted, including John Ortberg, that when we pray for God’s Kingdom, we are saying we are ready to be fully committed followers of Jesus and all that entails. That we are asking God’s Kingdom to infuse and replace our own kingdoms. That we are willing to give up our way of doing things for God’s.
Such things have compelled me to ask myself questions as, “What are my kingdoms in my own life? Where do I put myself in the place of being king? What might God say about my kingdoms and how I rule things in comparison to how God would want things done?”
I have also asked myself, “To what degree when I pray ‘your Kingdom come’ do I really mean it? Do I really want God’s Kingdom to arrive knowing the many changes I’d have to make to live into God’s Kingdom? Am I willing to upend things to align my own kingdoms with God’s?”
Or, as Paul writes in a letter from one version of the Bible, “Are we willing to fit every thought, emotion and impulse into a life shaped by Christ?” Is this humanly impossible, yes. But it is what we are asking for and striving for when we say, “Your Kingdom come.” And the writer NT Wright states, when we pray for God’s Kingdom, “we must of course be prepared to live this way.”
The point of all of this is not to make us feel inadequate, less than, guilty and bad. Rather the point is to highlight the radical nature of what we are asking God to do in our lives, which is to bring God’s Kingdom into our lives, to accept the resultant changes God seeks to make, and to embrace a life characterized and infused by God’s love. I believe when it is all said and done, when we pray, “Thy Kingdom Come,” while we may discover we must let go of many things, in the end, we will find the amazing life God has in mind for each of us.
Four short words. Four extraordinary words. Spoken together, these four words when referring to God’s will, are likely the most potent, upending, life altering, radical, and transforming utterances that can enter our consciousness and cross our lips, especially when said with intent and commitment.
During Jesus’ well known Sermon on the Mount, Jesus simply said, “Pray then in this way.” What followed were the words we now refer to as the Lord’s Prayer. This coming week I begin a two part series on this prayer, a prayer many know well that is often committed to memory. That said, the Lord’s Prayer is a prayer, at least in my own faith journey, whose power and profound life altering meaning I have not always embraced or acted upon.
Take, for example, the phrase “Your will be done.” On any given day I know I don’t always consult God before making decisions or acting upon information. I sometimes try and run my own life as if my life is ultimately self-directed and for my benefit. Frank Sinatra’s song, “My Way,” contains lyrics that are not foreign to my life experience.
While I am a fan of Frank Sinatra’s music, the lyrics in this song wonderfully express how so many of us go awry in life. In “My Way” Frank sings, “I’ve lived a life that’s full. I’ve traveled each and every highway. But more, much more that this, I did it my way.”
I understand the nostalgic wonder of this tune. I embrace and encourage individual competency, being able to function independently, and doing things well, but if taken to heart, these lyrics express what has often been amiss in my life and walk with Jesus. “My way” at its core does not reflect what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
That said, I believe that when we pray the words to God, “Your will be done,” we open up new horizons in life, new meaning, and a far deeper sense of purpose, along with higher degrees of faithfulness. If and when we pray to God “Your will be done,” if we mean it, if we are patient, if we create space, if we let go of presumptions and preconceptions, God’s will often becomes clear. I also continue to discover, not infrequently, that God’s will counters what we might have done or said in response to something without consulting God.
I am working on incorporating a new phrase in my life. That phrase, “God, what will serve me the most, so that I can serve you the best.” In other words, “God, what is it I need to do, listen to, receive, reject, decline, embrace, be receptive to, or take on that will help me align my will with your will so that I may serve you more fully. What will serve me in order to serve you. What is your will for me so that I may act upon your will with regard to whatever it is that is before me right now.”
Again, the words “God, your will be done” are not only profound but life altering. None of what I am writing about is easy or can be done with either consistency or perfection. This is what is means to be human beings, human beings that desperately need God.
None of what I am writing about is meant to be a criticism of any of us. Rather, I believe, God invites us to work day in and day out on turning to God’s will, because in the end, the more we do so, the more we will not only discover the life God has in mind for each of us, but also the limitless, boundless and overwhelming love of God.
So my prayer is that we can journey together seeking God’s will not only in our individual lives, but in the life of Snowmass Chapel. Such a journey is such an extraordinary blessing.
If I had to guess, I’d say the vast majority of people who live in this valley love taking a walk in forested areas. We are incredibly blessed to have countless numbers of trails to choose from. Some are extremely challenging and difficult, due to elevation gain and loss and/or distance, while others are far simpler requiring comparatively little effort.
Perhaps the dynamic nature of forest trails account, in part, for the vast appeal. Light, temperature, smells, trail consistency, and sounds all vary from step to step and every forest trail is unique.
We just returned from a short trip to visit one of our daughters who is away at college in the south. Her university is surrounded by thousands of acres of trees and trails. One morning, we ventured out for a stroll on one of the trails. As we made our way along, we began to notice that a number of trees had burls of various shapes and sizes. Some of the burls were high up in the trees, while others were quite low to the ground.
As I understand it, folks don’t completely know why burls form to begin with, but lots of people believe burls happen due to some source of stress to a tree, such as insects, fungus, bacteria, or environmental issues. Others think genetic factors play a role, but whatever the reason, some burls are spectacular and are sought after by artisans. While burls do not affect the life of a tree, sadly sometimes thieves looking for some dollars, cut burls out of trees. If left alone, however, burls can grow quite large.
On our recent walk, I began thinking about burls, how the wood within them can be so stunning, and how in fact they are not really detrimental to a tree’s overall health. In fact it is the stress to the tree that shapes burls into objects of beauty to begin with. Isn’t it intriguing that imperfections in the trunks of trees are in part what makes them so astonishing and valued by those paying attention. It is their imperfections that make them unique, interesting, and full of character.
In reflecting upon trees and burls, I have to wonder what it might be like if we viewed our own imperfections or those of others in the same way? That is, is it not our imperfections that makes each of us unique, of value, and interesting? Paul, from one version of the Bible writes, “Each one of us is an original.” And I would add, we are beautifully original precisely because of who we are due to our strengths, weaknesses, and yes, imperfections.
In nature I find most things to be perfectly imperfect. I pray that one day, we as human beings, will learn to view each other with the same lens. Doing so would not only create more loving hearts, but far more humility, something I believe is desperately needed in this era.
When my husband, Tim, and I were engaged, the couple who led our marriage prep classes reassured all the new couples that while partners argue over everything from how to hang the toilet paper roll to who gets the TV remote, there are really only a few major areas couples fight over to the point of causing stress in their relationship: Parenting, Money, Religion and Sex. Oh. Is that all? For goodness sakes, people. WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
Basically what our sweet pre-marriage counselors were saying is: at some point you’re gonna need help. Can I get an amen?
People seek help from therapists, counselors, pastors and well-meaning friends with armchair degrees for all kinds of reasons. Stress at work, parenting and family issues, marriage trouble, depression, mental health issues, job change, loneliness, divorce, grief. The list is pretty endless, so don’t you dare think you have something that no one has ever heard of. Still, there is a stigma attached to seeking professional help.
I taught parenting classes for years and I was always disheartened to hear people explain that they were embarrassed to sign up for the class because it made them look like a bad parent. No – you know what makes you look like a bad parent? Being a bad parent! Meanwhile, the people who sign up for parenting classes are busy having healthier relationships, more cooperative kids, and more fun!
So let’s talk about that little thing called “stigma.” It means “something that takes away from one’s character or reputation. A mark indicating something is not right.” Ok. So maybe you’re afraid counseling would take away from your reputation or people would see that something is not right. Fair enough. Wrong. But fair; I see where you’re going.
Now try this on for size: if you wear corrective lenses the chances are good you might have been diagnosed with stigmatism. Stigmatism (or astigmatism as it’s also known) has to do with the way an oddly shaped eye refracts light. (I have oddly shaped eyeballs. Just sayin’.) The stigma in your eyes causes things to look out of whack until you correct it with the help of a professional.
And of course there is the stigma of a flower — that delicate, oh-so fragile part of the flower that stands at attention in the center of the petals whose SOLE FUNCTION is to be a RECEPTIVE landing zone for everything that comes its way in order to increase its efficiency in helping to produce other flowers.
Then there’s stigmata, which – you guessed it – also comes from the same root – and refers to – are you ready for this? — the UNEXPLAINED bodily scars of some CHRISTIANS which mimic the scars of Jesus caused by his crucifixion. Think St. Francis, St. Bernadette, and Padre Pio.
The Apostle Paul ended his entire letter to the Galatians with this: “I bear on my body the marks (stigmata) of Jesus.” In Paul’s day, a mark or a brand might have been used for identification of an animal or slave. But Paul’s scars weren’t completely unexplained; he bore those scars because of his work in spreading the gospel of Jesus. Why? BECAUSE PAUL WAS ALL-IN. And he often paid the price for his relentless pursuit of Jesus by being jailed, scourged and beaten, not to mention shipwrecked a time or two.
So the next time you think, “Oh, I can’t possibly let people know I’m in therapy, it has such a stigma — what will they think of me?” Rest assured, we will think: there goes an incredible human being who is receptive to seeing life in a new way, and who bears the scars of having lived life all-in.
After all – what else is there?
P.S. If you think this blog is a shameless promotion of the upcoming marriage retreat at Snowmass Chapel, you may be right. If you think we’re promoting our upcoming workshop on teen mental health, you might also be right. And if you think we are promoting our Stephen Ministry & Caring Connection which offers peer to peer support for people who are hurting – YOU ARE 100 percent SPOT ON. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Gal. 6:2. No stigma. No shame. Just the marks of life, my friends. At some point, we’re all gonna need a little help.
Without a doubt, the attack on New York City was a watershed moment. I shared with our children that the US was different pre 9/11. It is likely all of us remember where we were when the events of that day eighteen years ago hit our consciousness.
We were living in Concord, New Hampshire. At the time I was serving as Assistant Rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Early that September morning, I learned that one of our parishioners named Jim, living at home, but under hospice care, was nearing the end of his life. I quickly headed to his home where his wife greeted me at the door. They lived in a simple trailer filled with love and mementos from a long life together.
After catching up with them both, Jim asked for communion, which I had brought with me. When a few prayers were said, I took a wafer out of a travel communion box. I held the wafer in my hand and looked into Jim’s tear filled eyes. I said, “Jim, this is the body of Christ for you.” As I said the words, “the body of Christ for you,” I saw the television in the background. At that exact moment, the first tower collapsed. We were speechless.
While lots happened in the ensuing days, including being asked by the Governor of New Hampshire to set up interfaith worship services, what has remained with me the most was the memory of the juxtaposition of the wafer being placed in Jim’s hand at the moment the first tower fell.
Although it is difficult for me to come up with words to describe that experience, I know that our suffering is met with God’s suffering and that our suffering is not distant from God, but rather lies within the center of God’s heart.
Whether it is the unspeakable horror of that September day and the years of torment that followed for so many or our own suffering in our lives now, suffering is perhaps when we are closest to God and God is closest to each one of us. We may or may not be able to articulate that intimacy with God during such times, but my prayer is that in ways that supersede understanding we may take great comfort, solace and strength from this truth. Jesus’ pain on the cross joins our pain on the crosses we bear each day.
The good news is that the cross and suffering does not have the last word to who we are, but rather a restored and renewed life, as it was and remains for Jesus and all who have gone before us, including all who perished 18 years ago today.
While eternal life is ahead for each of us, in the meantime it is helpful and reassuring to know there is no place where God is not, even when we are in the darkest of places. David, of Israel, understood this when he wrote the following words. I invite us all to pray and meditate upon his words as they are a salve to our post 9/11 broken hearts.
1 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
While the leaves have yet to change, you can feel the coming of the fall season. Nights are cooler and the sun is changing angles bringing forth new ways of looking at familiar things. Although the calendar may not show it, summer is soon to be behind us here in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Despite the fact that we all have different likes and dislikes, I am struck by how many people love fall as a season. I understand why it is the favorite of so many, but it strikes me as a bit ironic that this is the case. Inherent with the season of fall is change. Fall is all about transition, shifting, transforming, and becoming something different. The constancy of winter and summer are not present in October and November.
Why is it then that we embrace the wonder and beauty of change when it comes to a meteorological season, yet sometimes resist change when it comes to the seasons of our lives?
When it comes to leaves during fall, many of us wake up each morning with a sense of anticipation of how different leaves will look and the air will feel. When we see or experience the variations, it brings joy and gratitude.
Perhaps there is a lesson in God’s creation in all of this for us to pay attention to. Could it be that God’s desire for us is to embrace the changes in life, the deepening of wisdom that happens as a result, and the value of both dormant and growth periods? What if we learned to embrace changes in our life just as we embrace the seasons of nature?
Throughout scripture, I cannot find an example in which God’s message is, “don’t grow, don’t change, don’t move forward, don’t let go and trust me, or hold on to what has always been.” Rather God’s desire is that we grow more deeply into a relationship with Him, that we learn to give all of ourselves to Him, that we learn to hold onto only one thing, God Himself.
I believe this season of fall is a great opportunity for each of us to explore what it is we are holding onto that perhaps we need to be letting go of. It is a great time to ask God for help in embracing healthy change and to get in touch with where we are stuck. It is also important to intentionally take time with God and move from a static relationship into one that is fluid, dynamic, and alive, if this is where we are in our faith journey.
Change is not always easy, I know firsthand. But if it were not for change, I am not sure I would cherish the beauty of the moment, the learning opportunities that are continual, or the constancy of the presence of Jesus. I invite you to embrace this fall season in a spirit of wonder, and to do the same with your life.
Catching a glimpse of something is part of our human experience. My hunch is that each of us have had glimpses of the terrible and wonderful in our lives. Once in a while, perhaps we even catch a glimpse of how things should be in this world.
Like parents at a playground with no phone in sight pushing their girl on a swing. Or a couple speaking words of understanding and compassion finally forgiving each other for hurts long held within. Or a deep depression lifting following years of despair. Or a one year anniversary of having had the last glass of scotch.
There is a great tune from the country singer Lee Ann Womack titled, “There is a God.” Here are some excerpts. “Try and put your arms around a 100 year old tree. Climb up on a horse and let it run full speed. Watch a flock of birds against the morning sun. Close your eyes and listen to the river run. Catch a firefly in your hand or a raindrop on your tongue. Plant a seed and see what comes out of the ground. Find the heartbeat on your baby’s ultrasound. Hear the doctor say he can’t explain it, but the cancer is gone.”
While there is more, these lyrics express not only the presence of God, but they give us a glimpse of how things should be, should always be. Once in a while, if we pay attention, we get glimpses of the good, the right, the just, the peaceful, and the loving. When Jesus walked the dirt roads of Israel, he too gave us glimpses of how things should be.
I invite you to immerse yourself in Jesus’ words in the Gospels, teaching such as, “Love your enemies; forgive everyone; when you lose yourself, you find yourself; let go of power and ego; treat others as you want to be treated; what matters most is where you heart is; nobody is better than anybody else; real wealth is a life grounded upon a relationship with God; give all your burdens to God; do not fear…”
Jesus said and taught so much more, and if we listen, really attend to Jesus’ words, they all reflect how things should be. But in the midst of all that is right, we live in an era in which there is extreme division, contentiousness, hostility, and ugliness. As Jesus followers, we should never enflame, encourage, or intentionally participate in such things. All of this, I believe, is an invitation to ask ourselves, “How am I to live as a Christian right now in the midst of it all?”
Perhaps what we are called to do in our good and bad and certainly divided culture, is to give everyone around us a glimpse of what things are supposed to look like through our words, our actions, our silences, and our inactions. Maybe we are to tend to our hearts, first and foremost, so they don’t become hardened or harsh or critical or mean or venomous or divisive or reactive or paranoid, but rather so they become more and more like the heart of Jesus.
Could it be that the rubber-meets-the-road point of this is to understand that we are in a tough rough world and that has been the case since the beginning. To know that while this is the case, there is a point to our journey, meaning to being alive at this time, and a purpose to which we are each called. That one purpose we each share is to give people around us glimpses of how things should be and will be when it is all said and done.
So how do we give people glimpses of how things should and will be one day? I believe we have to keep our eyes on Jesus, internalize his teachings, however imperfectly we do so, and be intentional about how we show up in the world each day. We need to act, sometimes not react, speak up, sometimes hold our tongues, and take an honest look at what our lives are giving people a glimpse of.
If we are giving people glimpses of how things should be and will be one day, then the essence of who we are and how we show up will reflect joy, peace, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, self-control, and love. It means our lives will not be full of conceit or envy or anger or judgmentalness or division or put downs. It means our lives and actions and words will reflect Jesus and all he taught and said.
So I leave us with some questions today. Questions we can only answer for ourselves. Here are those questions. Does my life and how I show up give people a glimpse of Jesus? Does my life and who I am give people a glimpse of how things should be and will be when it is all said and done? Fundamentally, does my life give people a glimpse of the love of God?
Hard questions, yes. Essential to think about if we want to take our walk with Jesus seriously, without a doubt. Certainly this gives us much to think and pray about and ultimately act upon. And I believe giving others a glimpse of Jesus will change everything, one person at a time.
Aesop’s Fables were part of my childhood. To this day I remember my mom and grandmother reading them to me.
In the fable of the North Wind and Sun, as I remember it, the north wind and the sun get into an argument over which one of them is the strongest. In the midst of their debate, a person traveling strolls by wrapped in a cloak. In response, the sun and the wind agree that whoever can strip the traveler of his cloak must be the more powerful of the two.
The wind went first by blowing a hard cold fierce wind on the traveler. The wind howled and howled and the stronger the blast, the tighter and tighter the traveler clung to his cloak. No matter how hard the wind tried, the wind could not strip the traveler of his cloak.
Then it was the sun’s turn. He shined warm gentle rays down upon the traveler. The traveler was engulfed in a pleasant feeling and soon he loosened the cloak he was wearing. Over time he became so comfortably warm that he removed the cloak completely. Hence, the sun won the debate with the wind.
One moral of the story is that gentleness and kindness are often far more powerful than force. This may be why the following quote is attributed to Aesop. “No act of kindness is ever wasted.”
This fable came to mind the other day due to a simple act of kindness by a stranger toward me. I was busy and had to run errands when I noticed my gas gauge was nearing below empty. Despite my pressured schedule, I pulled into a station and filled my car up, after which, I went inside to buy a cold iced tea. After waiting for a few moments in line, I approached the woman at the register. She smiled and said, “no charge today for you.”
I replied, “Really?” She said, “Yes.” After thanking her and complimenting her for her kindness, I got into my car and went about my day. Her simple kindness remained with me. Indeed, Aesop was right, “no act of kindness is ever wasted.”
I know this may seem to be a platitude or overly sentimental, but I believe there is great wisdom in Aesop’s fable of the North Wind and Sun, as many have said over the years. I have a strong suspicion that if more and more of us engaged in intentional kindness, much would change in our lives and in our nation. We certainly have plenty of evidence of what things are like when we are anything but kind to one another.
Perhaps this is why Paul wrote in his letter to the people of Ephesus, “Be kind to each other.” Simple, of course. Challenging at times, certainly.
The Rev. Dr. Robert de Wetter