Saint or horse?

From a Ronald Rolheiser reflection:

There’s a Jewish folk-tale which runs something like this:

There once was a young man who aspired to great holiness. After some time at working to achieve it, he went to see his Rabbi.

“Rabbi,” he announced, “I think I have achieved sanctity.”

”Why do you think that?” asked the Rabbi.

”Well,” responded the young man, “I’ve been practising virtue and discipline for some time now and I have grown quite proficient at them. From the time the sun rises until it sets, I take no food or water. All day long, I do all l do all kinds of hard work for others and I never expect to be thanked.

“If I have temptations of the flesh, I roll in the snow or in thorn bushes until they go away, and then at night, before bed, I practice the ancient monastic discipline and administer lashes to my bare back. I have disciplined myself so as to become holy.”

The Rabbi was silent for a time. Then he took the young man by the arm and led him to a window and pointed to an old horse which was just being led away by its master.

“I have been observing that horse for some time,” the Rabbi said, “and I’ve noticed that it doesn’t get fed or watered from morning to night. All day long it has to do work for people and it never gets thanked. I often see it rolling around in snow or in bushes, as horses are prone to do, and frequently I see it get whipped.

“But, I ask you: Is that a saint or a horse?”

(Photo: Monastery of Christ in The Desert, Abiqui, NM)

A prayer of thanksgiving – Kathleen Norris

We praise and thank you, Lord, for the uncertain, in-between times in our lives when we can be still and know that you are God. We praise and thank you for the hidden wonders of each day. We praise and thank you for acts of kindness, great and small, that serve to bring about your kingdom. We praise and thank you for the courage to place ourselves under your protection, not allowing fear to have the upper hand. We praise and thank you for your patience with our weakness, for being willing to work in and through us in ways we do not understand. We praise and thank you for our emptiness, which will one day be filled with your love. We praise and thank you for the silent wonders you work in us, preparing us for a life that will find its completion in you. Amen.

Hole In the Head Review

Emily Dickinson once defined poetry this way: “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?”
Who am I to disagree with Emily Dickinson?
The Hole In The Head Review is an online literary/arts review that will publish in early 2020. My intent is to publish poems, prose poems, photographs, paintings and other works of art that make me feel as if the top of my head were taken off. I anticipate publishing a new issue every two months.
Work submitted will be reviewed by established writers and artists and notifications will go out no later than 30 days after submission or the submission fee of $4 will be refunded.
An online journal has modest start-up expenses – primarily website design/hosting and the cost of one year subscription to Submittable, the online tool for submitting works.
Any assistance you provide will be greatly appreciated. Your support will be recognized prominently in each issue.
Thank you. Peace and all good things to you all!

Donate via GoFundMe here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/hole-in-the-head-review?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

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Around Us – Marvin Bell

We need some pines to assuage the darkness
when it blankets the mind,
we need a silvery stream that banks as smoothly
as a plane’s wing, and a worn bed of
needles to pad the rumble that fills the mind,
and a blur or two of a wild thing
that sees and is not seen. We need these things
between appointments, after work,
and, if we keep them, then someone someday,
lying down after a walk
and supper, with the fire hole wet down,
the whole night sky set at a particular
time, without numbers or hours, will cause
a little sound of thanks–a zipper or a snap–
to close round the moment and the thought
of whatever good we did.

Hell

TO ME, THE definition of hell is simple: it is a place where there is no understanding and no compassion. We have all been to hell. We are acquainted with hell’s heat, and we know that hell is in need of compassion. If there is compassion, then hell ceases to be hell. You can generate this compassion yourself. If you can bring a little compassion to this place, a little bit of understanding, it ceases to be hell. You can be the bodhisattva who does this. Your practice consists in generating compassion and understanding and bringing them to hell. Hell is here, all around us. Hell is in us, like a seed. We need to cultivate the positive within us so we can generate the energy of understanding and compassion and transform hell. Hell is a matter of everyday life, like the Kingdom of God. The choice is yours. – thich nhat hang