Aloha Friday Message – December 18, 2009

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This is a story I picked up from our Priest, Fr. Ramelo Somera (just recently celebrating the 10th anniversary of his ordination!). Thanks, Fr. Ramel, for being our Pastor.

There was a man who lived on a tiny little ranch up in the mountains about a day’s hike from the village in the valley. Once a month he hiked down to the village for supplies and a visit with the local Priest. On one such visit, he told the Priest, “Father, I am having trouble with my two horses. I can’t tell them apart. I don’t know if I am feeding one and not the other. I don’t know if I’m exercising the one I feed or feeding the one I exercise. I want both horses to be healthy. What shall I do?”

The Priest thought for a moment, and then told the man, “Take one of the horses aside and trim about two inches of hair from the end of its tail. Then you will be able to tell them apart. “The man replied, “Excellent, Father! I will do it!”

A month later, the man was in the village again. He went to see the Priest, and he was upset. “Father, I did as you told me, and for a while it worked, but in a little while the horse’s tail grew long again, and I could no longer tell them apart. What shall I do?”

The Priest had anticipated this situation, so he told the man, “Go back and trim two inches off the tail of one horse and two inches off the mane of the other horse. Then you will be able to tell them apart. The man replied, “Excellent, Father! I will do it!”

A month later, the man was in the village again. He went to see the Priest, and he was upset. “Father, I did as you told me, and for a while it worked, but in a little while the horse’s tail grew long again and so did the mane and I could no longer tell them apart. What shall I do?”

The Priest thought about this response. He was a little upset with the man because the man never thought of continuing to keep the tail and mane trimmed. Finally he said, “Here is what you do. The hair will always grow back, but take this tape measure and measure each horse at the shoulder. Then all you have to do is remember that one horse is taller than the other is, and you will be able to tell them apart. Now, go! And do not trouble me with this matter again!”

Another month passed. The priest watched the trail that came down from the side of the mountain. He was feeling badly about scolding the man, and had resolved to treat him kindly when he returned, regardless of what he told him about his two horses. Soon enough the man came to the Priest, and he was very happy. “Father!” he said, “That was brilliant! I took the tape measure and measured the horses, and now I can tell them apart! The black horse is exactly two inches taller than the white horse!”

Well, Beloved, What can we learn from this story? I am reminded of something from Tom Peters and Bob Waterman’s book, In Search of Excellence: “Obviously the obvious isn’t so obvious.” I mean, who can’t tell the difference between a black horse and a white horse? If the man was blind, we could understand that; but he is not. He knows one horse is white and one is black. What is his problem?!? If he can discern the colors, can he not discern they belong to separate horses?

Ah. Discernment. The ability to distinguish one thing from another. A white horse from a black horse, a red shirt from a green shirt, a good choice from a bad choice – all of these could be called mirrored dichotomies – paired-opposites that are obviously dissimilar. Well, except for maybe the part about choices. We seem to have a difficult time with discernment there. Sometimes it may seem that the difference between a good choice and a bad choice is hard to discern. I mean, what is the basis for discernment? And why do some people seem to have that process mastered and some people haven’t a clue? How does one choose between good and bad? Do we have the power to choose for ourselves which is which?

You bet we do! All of us have the power of discernment. It is part of our genetic and spiritual heritage as humans. Recall the incident in Eden. Eve and then Adam consumed “The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” What is that fruit? Not an apple, that’s pretty certain. The fruit from that root – the knowledge of good and evil – is the ability to tell them apart. The sin that separated Adam and Eve from the presence of God was graced by the gift of free will, the ability to choose between good and evil. Some fruit! Sin brings evil into the world – and vice versa – and right along with it comes the ability to tell the difference between good and evil, black and white, and light and darkness. With that ability, the ability of discernment, also comes the responsibility to make a choice, to resolve a dichotomy, to make a choice between two mutually-exclusive things. In everything in our lives we face the same kind of dichotomy – the conflict between good and evil, between carnal and spiritual, between conscience and consciousness of the effect of our choices. How do we choose?

Somewhere along the line we all hear about “The Third Choice.” This is a choice that differs from the two choices presented in the dichotomy but may preserve aspects of both choices. We have a word for that from the world of color: Gray. When you mix black and white, what do you get? Gray! A little more of one and less of the other and the mixture moves along a spectrum of shades between black and white, light and dark, good and evil. Ah, once the Accuser convinced us that Gray was the answer, we really made some historic decisions. From the apple at Eden to the Tower at Babel, from the door of the ark to the Ark of the Covenant, from the walls of Jerusalem to the top of Golgotha, humanity has often sought to live in the gray. Why? Because it is an available choice? Because we don’t know any better? Because we don’t want to choose between good and evil? Well, that doesn’t make sense! Of course we want to choose between good and evil! We want to choose good! It’s the only “real” choice. And after all, because of The Fall, we have the gift of discernment, right?

Well, sort of. It is a wonderful gift, but we are not able to discern perfectly because we are not perfect. Even if we can truly see the difference between good and evil, or even distinguish between the shades of gray, it is innately difficult for us to always choose that which is Always Right – except maybe this: “Of course we want to choose between good and evil! We want to choose good! It’s the only “real” choice.” Yes. That makes it easier. When confronted with a choice that is clearly between good and evil, choose the good. When the choice is between shades of gray, choose the lighter gray if you must choose, or refuse to choose if you cannot accept either choice because both are too dark. That’s like choosing between Darth Vader and The Emperor. Not much of a choice there, huh? And the more often you discern which is the better choice, the more likely you are to be able to choose that way again. Discernment is a good habit to develop, and like all habits, it strengthens with use.

Now this:

Some have problems for God and some have problems with God.

Those who have problems for God need to work with God.

Those who have problems with God need to work for God.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

Aloha Friday comes on Thursday next week.
~chick~

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

One Response to Aloha Friday Message – December 18, 2009

  1. kyen says:

    so true… hope someday i could attend holy masses and listen to wonderful homilies especially that of Fr. Ramel’s.

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