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A Wisdom Story

45. A Wisdom Story

I can’t remember exactly where I got this story but it has been a powerful one for me and I am still trying to learn from it. There is a story of monks who lived in a monastery in the woods and their numbers were dwindling. People used to come to visit the monastery for the day, and they stopped coming. No young people were stepping up and saying, “We want to join this order.”

So the monks were concerned and they talked about and finally decided to send one of their number deeper into the words to the hermitage where it was said that a wise person lived. They selected a monk and he traveled deep into the forest. He came to the hermitage, the wise one was there and invited him in. He told this wise person the situation and said, “We want to know what you think we should do?”

And the wise one said, “I don’t know. I’m not sure what you should do or how you can revive your order.” It was quiet for a minute as the two of them sat together. But the the wise person added, “Just remember—one of you is the Christ.” Well the monk was confused and went back to the monastery. All of the other monks were waiting for him and eager to hear what the person in the hermitage had said. They all sat down together.

The monk who had made the journey told them that this wise one didn’t have a solution but that the conclusion of the visit was the wise person saying, “Remember—one of you is the Christ.” They didn’t know what to make of that and they went back to their routines and their work and study. But each of them was thinking.

One of them thought: Well it can’t be Gregory because he has a temper and he gets so angry…it can’t be him can it? But maybe…

And another monk thought: Well I’m sure it’s not Phillip because he dawdles and wastes time, but….maybe…

And the monk who had visited the wise person thought to himself: Well I just know that it’s not Jonathan, because sometimes he even skips services…but maybe…

And each of them took a breath and thought: It can’t be me…can it?

But gradually and sometimes rather quickly things started to change at the monastery because each of the monks was treating each of the other monks with respect and honor. Plus they were treating themselves with respect. And things were going smoothly and there was even laughter occasionally. And then visitors started to come and they came back for another day and said, “It’s wonderful here. There’s something that is changing and it feels so good that we want to return over and over again.” And then—some young people said, “We want to join your order—we want to be a part of what’s happening here.”

And that’s the story. My struggle is to see the Christ in each person and in myself. Some days I can see it.

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