For this Monday, I have chosen a guitar version of J.S. Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. It is wonderfully serene and acts as a balm to my somewhat frazzled soul!
Our final (?) Wisdom Story comes to us from Terry Hershey’s The Power of Pause and was suggested by faithful PFO-er, Lynda.
Every day after school, the son of a well-known rabbi would enter his house, place his backpack on the dining room table, leave the house through the back door, and head into the woods behind the house.
At first, the rabbi gave little thought to his son’s ritual. But it continued for days, and then for weeks. Every day, out into the woods for almost a half an hour. Then the rabbi grew concerned.
“My son,” he said one day. “I notice that every day you leave our home and spend time in the woods. What is it that you are doing there?”
“Oh, Papa,” the son replied. “There is no need to worry. I go into the woods to pray. It is in the woods that I can talk to God.”
“Oh,” the rabbi said, clearly relieved, “But as the son of a rabbi, you should know that God is the same everywhere.”
“Yes, Papa. I know that God is the same everywhere. But I am not.”
Pedro Arrupe, Superior General of the Jesuits from 1965 to 1991, was an amazing man.
While studying medicine, he chose to enter the Jesuits. Because of the Spanish Civil War, however, he had to complete his theological training in the Netherlands and Belgium. After ordination, he went to the United States where he completed a Ph.D. in Medical Ethics.
He then went to Japan where, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was imprisoned as a suspected spy. He was released, however, after about a month.
In 1942, he was appointed Master of Novices in Hiroshima and that is where he was when the first atomic bomb was dropped on the city. He used his medical training to help those who were wounded or dying. He converted the novitiate into a makeshift hospital where between 150 and 200 people received care.
In 1958, he was appointed Provincial Superior of Japan and held that post until he was made Superior General.
I never met Father Arrupe, but I do have one fond memory of him. I was studying in Paris when French TV did an interview with him. The interviewer asked him, “Father, does St. Ignatius ever speak to you?” The reporter seemed rather startled when Arrupe responded, “Why, yes. He does.” “And what does he say to you?” asked the interviewer. With twinkling eyes and a big smile, he replied, “Ignatius warns me to be very careful about how I answer a reporter’s questions!”
Patrick Kavanagh (1904 – 1967) was an Irish poet and novelist. His poems are spare, simple and profound. Here I share part of Innocence:
The triangular hill that hung
Under the Big Forth. They said
That I was bounded by the whitethorn hedges
Of the little farm and did not know the world.
But I knew that love’s doorway to life
Is the same doorway everywhere.
Ashamed of what I loved
I flung her from me and called her a ditch
Although she was smiling at me with violets.
I especially love the lines “But I knew that love’s doorway to life/Is the same doorway everywhere.”
You can read the entire poem here.