by Father Mark Goldasich
My parishioners sure take good care of me. A few weeks ago, one sent me an e-mail that, in a single page, explained why we human beings are the way we are. Curious? Well, here’s the story:
On the first day, God created the dog and said, “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of 20 years.”
“Whoa,” snapped the dog. “Twenty years is a long time to be barking. How about only 10 years and I give you back the other 10?”
And God agreed.
On the second day, God created the monkey and said, “Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I will give you a 20-year life span.”
Raising his hands, the monkey cheeped, “Did you say monkey tricks for 20 years? That’s a pretty long time to perform. How about if I give you back 10 like the dog did?”
And God agreed.
On the third day, God created the cow and said, “You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the blistering sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer’s family. For this, I will give you a life span of 60 years.”
The cow “mooved” to object: “Wow, that’s kind of a tough life you want me to live for 60 years! How about just 20 and I give you back the other 40?”
And God agreed.
On the fourth day, God created hu- man beings and said, “Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I’ll give you 20 years!”
“Pardon me,” whined the man and woman. “Only 20 years? Could you pos- sibly give us our 20, the 40 the cow gave back, the 10 the monkey returned, and the 10 the dog didn’t want? That makes 80. OK?”
“OK,” said God, “you asked for it.”
So that is why for our first 20 years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next 40 years, we slave in the sun to support our families. For the next 10 years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last 10 years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone. (This version was attributed to the prolific writer, “Anonymous.”)
As much as I hate to admit it, there’s a lot of truth in that silly little story. It really does explain things.
We’re now at the midpoint of 2010. Are you ready to do some thinking and evaluating? Gather several pieces of paper, grab a pen, fix yourself a refreshing drink, find a comfortable chair, and . . . prepare to ponder. By the way, make sure that you have with you your list of new year’s resolutions and the list of fun activities to do during the summer months. (Now, you did take my advice in previous columns and actually write out these lists, right? Right?)
How well are you doing with those items? If you’ve not adopted your resolu- tions, why not? What are some obstacles that you’ve encountered that you didn’t anticipate? If your goals are still valid and valuable, how can you get around those roadblocks in the second half of the year? For those resolutions that aren’t attractive now, what new ones can you come up with to still make this year a time of growth?
And how about that list of fun summer activities? Have you done any of them yet? With the Fourth of July weekend here, summer is rapidly passing by. Peek at that list again and double up on the fun stuff, if necessary, to make sure that you get it all in.
A few weeks ago, I went over in the late evening to sit by the large fountain outside the Legends 14 Theatres at Village West in Kansas City, Kan. I let those dancing waters occupy my attention. It was incredibly relaxing. Often we are so absorbed in chatting on the phone, texting or just hurrying in general, that we fail to notice all the life around us. When do we actually take the time to feel a gentle breeze on our face, listen to the playful yelps of kids having fun, breathe in a lungful of refreshing fresh air, savor a juicy slice of watermelon or watch the unpredictable fluttering of lightning bugs? These are God’s simple gifts that surround us in these summer days. Do we ever take the time to notice and appreciate them?
Going back to that opening story, I’d say that most of us have the “toiling constantly” and the “relentless barking” down pat. In fact, we probably go way over the allotted time for those activities.
Maybe in these dog days of summer, we need to relearn the gifts of play, sleep and enjoyment. And, as the monkey would advise, don’t forget to throw in a healthy dose of silliness and laughter. And if you find yourself exceeding the allotted number of years for these activities, congratulations!
I’m sure that God the Creator won’t mind at all.