A Spiritual Chronicle for Jerusalem

“Master,” the child was looking at a small butterfly on his hand as though looking at sunlight reflecting through a flawless diamond, “how should people live their lives?”

The monk, who had been observing the child keenly, admiring his intensity, was amazed at the child’s capacity to hold two thoughts simultaneously – the flawless butterfly and the metaphysical query. “What do you mean?”

The child extended his hand upward toward the sun, as though releasing the butterfly from captivity. The child was waiting, unmoving. The butterfly seemed reluctant to leave…watching the child as the child watched back. Then the child nodded, ever so slightly, and blinked his eyes slowly, approvingly. The butterfly slowly moved its wings. Another nod from the child and then the butterfly lifted its body from the child’s fingers and drifted off toward the sun. The child’s eyes followed the butterfly into the distance.

Turning to the old man, the child again asked, “How should people live their lives?”

“Oh, o’yes…well, let me see…how should one live his life?” The monk thought for a moment. “There are two things every person should do.” The old man settled on the ground and muttered, “Every day this is getting harder.” The child moved to hold the old monk’s elbow and assist him to the ground.

“My child, there are two things every person should do – every moment of their life – only two things and life would be so wonderful.”

The monk moved about on the earth to settle in, “The first thing,” he shifted again, his back was aching, “a person must accept is this: that which is in front of him is the most important thing in his life.”

Thing?” The boy was now the inquisitor.

Glancing at the boy, the old monk could only mutter the incomprehensible to himself. “Yes, yes – the most important thing…the most important,” he hesitated, “…the most important event…the most important object,” and then as though a light had been lit, he turned to the boy, “the most important detail in a person’s life. It is this detail to which he must give one-hundred percent of his attention and energies. This detail,” he was now saying the word with thick emphasis, “may be in front of a person because God placed it there before the creature – man or woman.”

“Oh I understand, this detail,” the boy was now imitating the man’s deep voice at the word detail, “might be a person, an object, or a creature of God’s creation…like the butterfly!”

Relieved, but suspecting that the boy had been playing him, the old monk said, “Yes, you are right. ‘That which is in front of a person is the most important thing in his life.”

“What is the second thing?” The boy, again with an emphasis on the word thing, was imitating the man and had a slight smile on his face as he looked at the monk.

Seeing the wry smile, the old monk, feeling older by the day could only smile. “The second thing is that all we do must be for the greater glory of God.”

“Everything?”

“Yes, everything. Whatever is in front of us at the moment must be engaged in a manner that promotes God’s glory.”

Silence ensued. Neither the child nor the man said anything and both seemed to be listening. The life surrounding them was engaged and preparing for the setting sun.

The boy broke the silence. “It’s that easy?”

“What?”

“Living life is that easy? I mean, living life by obeying the two rules is easy.”

“No my child. It is quite difficult. It is not easy.”

“But the rules sound easy; that which is in front of you is the most important thing in your life and whatever we do should be for the greater glory of God. This is not easy?”

“No my child, it is not easy.”

“Why?”

“Because we are weak.”

Again, there was silence…

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