Category Archives: Fortitude

Tell me what you want

Help Cannot Approach A Complainer

Many centuries ago in the Middle East, a man in simple garb walked the streets as the shining light and staff for all those who yearned to be true human beings.

One day a woman condemned by the society as a harlot and thus treated with the utmost disrespect came to the end of her road. She could no longer go on living as a pariah and saw in this great man, whom they called “Master,” her only hope for a better existence.

She stood for hours struggling through the crowd without success to get closer to the Master as He addressed the multitude, so she waited until the crowd dispersed. As He turned to leave, she ran towards His direction and  called out to Him. She was speechless when she stood before Him and bowed her head.

“You wish to speak to me? Tell me what you want, the Master said.”

She lost her shyness and said in a weary voice: “See how they all despise me, Master! I cannot speak in their presence. Indeed they make it impossible for me to lead a different life again. They always remind me of my sin, and shun me wherever they see me. They take their children away when I walk in the street, and threaten to stone me.”

The Master said nothing, He walked quietly on, and the woman remained by His side without any objection from Him. He left the town, and still the woman walked by the side of the Master. And hours went by.

Then the Master halted. “What do you hope for from me, that you do not go home?”

“A word of advice, Sir.”

“When I asked what you wanted you made accusations! You had nothing but complaints and lamentations. That is why I could not help you. Now I will give you advice. Go to another country and begin the new life for which you long. Work from morning till night in order to forget the past. You are young, and can still make up for all that you have neglected.”

…….

Daily, hourly, creation says the same to us, “Tell me what you want.” We respond by the nature of our innermost thoughts, words, and deeds. Help cannot reach the man who whines and complains, it simply finds no connection. It however unfailingly reaches him who makes the effort to seek humbly and live honorably, often times coming when least expected.

 

*Inspired from an Account of The Life of Christ

 

Immaculée’s Story

Spiritual Growth  “I heard the killers call my name. A jolt of terror shot through me, why did they call out my name- how did they know I was here? Were they coming to the bathroom? … They were yelling at the pastor, accusing and threatening him. ‘Where is she?’ Find her… find Immaculée. ‘I have killed 399 cockroaches, Immaculée will make 400. It’s a good number to kill.'”*

During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Immaculée and seven other women hid in a tiny bathroom (approximately four feet long and three feet wide). After seven weeks of extreme discomfort and very little food, Immaculée weighed only 75 pounds. A pretty, vibrant and intelligent 22 year old college student  was now anything but a pretty sight. She had not showered in all her time in the bathroom for fear that others in the Pastor’s household who were loyal to the Hutu militants would discover their hiding place. Her skin was pale, her lips were cracked and her gums were swollen.

The great intensity of the experience- concern for family members and fear of the brutality with which the Hutu militants killed women pushed everything superficial aside. Immaculée devoted herself to prayer and meditation during her time in the bathroom and despite her physical filth, she never felt more beautiful. Her spirit was wide open to the ray of Divine love and beauty which constantly surrounds us because she possessed two key requisites; purity of thought and humility.

Purity– In her first weeks of hiding, she hated the Hutu militants for their senseless and brutal actions but later realized that her prayers could not reach the throne of The Almighty Father with a heart full of hatred. She struggled for days in prayer for the strength to forgive these misguided men and was finally able to see them as foolish children who did not understand the terrible harm they were inflicting on themselves and others. She prayed that they recognize their horrific actions and are able to atone for them before their time on earth came to an end.

Humility– Drastic events such as genocides, tsunamis etc. often remind us of our smallness and even for just a moment our conceit and belief in our own pseudo-knowledge recedes. They say the wise man is one who knows that he knows nothing, why is this? Probably because he understands that he can receive no real knowledge without first emptying himself of all that he thinks he knows.

Only through her purity and humility was Immaculée’s able to receive of the Primordial Light of The Creator which instills inner calmness and confidence. She ended up spending 3 months in the bathroom before being rescued.

* Ilibagiza, Immaculée. Left to Tell. Hay House, 2006. Print

The Obstacle in Our Path

Boulder

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

The peasant learned what many of us never understand! Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

Author- Unknown

In Perspective

Worry

Respecting Death by Seeking The Meaning of Life

The atmosphere was tense in most offices during the 2008 financial crisis but this was especially true at  City Financial Bank. In a strategy to increase the yields on its assets in the 1990s the bank acquired a large subprime mortgage lender, and by 2007 their residential mortgage loans had exceeded their amount of commercial loans.

Needless to say, City Financial suffered great losses as the subprime mortgage market collapsed and had to send home hundreds of its employees. The seemingly endless weekly layoffs had most of the employees on edge because they sensed it was just a matter of time before the bank goes bankrupt.

With  a mortgage, student loan and car payments, Gary could not afford to lose his job. He became so anxious and consumed with worry that he had no appetite. He was fed up with his condition and decided to talk with his colleague, Cheung. Cheung’s greatest quality was his inner equanimity which inspired confidence in those around him.

After sharing his fears with Cheung about being laid off with no money to pay his bills, Cheung  gently placed his right hand on Gary’s left shoulder and shared with him an ancient Chinese saying which his father often repeated to him in his teenage years…

If you do not take death seriously, life will plunge you into seriousness. But if you live with death in mind, life will not be able to harm you. With death in mind and that which follows it, you will stride through life as one who lives it, and feels not its severity.

…..

Taking death seriously means respecting death by seeking the meaning of life. The hardships of life which we all experience at some point is more bearable to the individual who respects life, death and the afterlife. It is strange that so little attention is paid to this very thing which would enlighten us on all else. With respect for life, death and the afterlife, the impact of life’s difficulties become less severe because they are now seen in the context of a broader picture.