Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Beauty of Life

A farmer and his son are on their way to the  market in a distant city to sell their harvested crops. A Jesuit priest tells the story of that trip, 68 years ago, that changed the course of the son's life forever.

They left early in the morning and, according to the son's calculations, if they walked without resting would arrive at the market early the following morning. The father, however, wanted to give the ox time to rest and was not too concerned with the calculations of the son, who wanted to arrive at the market early to get a better price for their products. While the ox rested, the father got on the cart for a nap himself. After the rest, he took the reigns from the son and coming to a fork in the road took the road on the left; his son reminded him that the road on the right was the shorter way. The father agreed but said the other was more scenic.

"Do you have no appreciation of the value of time?" the son asked. "That's not true," his father replied. "I have a keen awareness of time, that's why I want to take time to see the beauties of nature." That night the son was so upset he paid no attention to the beauty of the sunset or the scent of the flowers by the side of the road, which were of so much interest to the father. Let us rest here for the night, said the father, and have the ox share our rest. The son told the father he was not going to join him at the market because he thought more about  the flowers and the sunset than in making money. The father with a smile on his face went to sleep; the son was so upset he couldn't sleep.

Next morning they came across a farmer whose oxcart was stuck in the mud. The father insisted they stop to help the farmer, even though the city was still quit a distance away. It was then that they saw a lightening-like flash in the sky and heard what sounded like thunder, followed by the whole sky beyond the hills being engulfed in a rain of ashes. The son sullenly reminded the father that if they had not rested they would by this time be on the way home with the money from the farm products in their pocket. The father told his son that his life as a farmer was not for only a few years but for a lifetime. "You should be enjoying every moment of it," he said.

When they came to the road leading down to what was once the city of Hiroshima, they stood in uncomprehending silence as they viewed the scene before them. The son, turning to his father, said, "I now understand what you were saying." It was the morning of August 6, 1945. 

Life for many, said the priest, is a constant search to do more and at a quicker pace.  Is that what life should be? he asks. He would like us to take seriously the words of the father to his son: to appreciate the beauty of each moment of life and when standing before the throne of God be able to say, "How beautiful all life is!"

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